Ending the Shutdown Before the Next One Begins

"Right now we can borrow money and get by."

Kayla Ingraham, Reporter

On December 22, 2018, the United States went into its longest, and ongoing, government shutdown. Passing up the 21-day shutdown of 1995-1996, and there’s no sign of the shutdown coming to a close any time soon.

Members of the United States Congress and Donald Trump could not agree on an appropriations bill; a bill to appropriate federal funds to specific government departments, agencies, and programs. The money provides funding for operations, personnel, equipment and activities; this is what has sent the government into the, so far, 34 day shutdown. The Anti-deficiency act prohibits federal departments or agencies from conducting non-essential operations without the bill in place. As a result, nine executive departments with around 800,000 employees, had to be shutdown, affecting about one fourth of government employees.

For Grayback Forestry, in Grants Pass, Oregon, December and January is usually the time that they hire and train staff to get ready for the next season of fires. The company should be making plans to defeat fires, especially after the last two summers, but the plans aren’t getting done. Mike Wheelock, the company’s president, says “If this doesn’t get resolved in two to three months it’s going to start impacting us into the future. Right now we can borrow money and get by.” The workers are soon to miss their second paycheck.They are losing jobs and income. This is the same for Police Stations, Fire Stations, and a majority of the people who protect us everyday.

At Portland International Airport, there are about 700 employees working without pay, including Air Traffic Controllers, Customs and Border Protection, and Transportation Security Administration. The employees are still doing their job, even without pay, but they are worried about how long their savings will last. The shutdown has happened right as the airport prepares for its expansion, which will cost 2-billion.

Mike Benedict, an Aviation Safety Inspector, explains how the shutdown has impacted him and his co-workers on the job. “the staff required to work during the Government Shutdown suffered low moral and signs of depression and stress as time went on. We were aware that mistakes could be made due to distraction of the situation. We incorporated double checking each other’s work as a safety net to ensure the work was done correctly.”

Benedict is one of many who hasn’t been getting paid and he informs us on how his family is getting by in the current situation. The biggest concern is that I will not be able to provide and pay for family essentials if the shutdown continues. We have eliminated all non-essential expenditures, such as going out to dinner or recreational activities. We also needed to use banking credit and cards more than usual in order to pay for bills and household needs.”

Benedict says that if the Government Shutdown lasts more than three or four months he would need to seek employment elsewhere. He believes that “The political machine exists only at the will of the people. The politicians are representatives of the people, they will change only when the people make it clear that changes are required.”

The Oregon and Washington Coast guard has about 3,500 employees. On February first the Coast Guard will receive their second paycheck of zero dollars, however like the Airport, the employees are still working without pay. They want the public to know that they are still on watch, and if someone calls they will be there. On the Oregon coast, communities have came together to support the U.S Coast Guard. Stacy Benson, the spouse of a Coast Guard in Astoria, came up with an idea to start collecting donations and food for local Coast Guard families. Benson and several of her friends have opened there “Be The Light” food pantry last weekend. The Pantry gives away donated food and diapers. They were ecstatic when over 500 families showed up to receive the support.

Brenda McGranahan, who works for Homeland Security, says that she hasn’t seen a drastic change in her work atmosphere.The employees know that they have an important job to do and come in everyday with a professional mindset. However, on the third week of the shutdown, she noticed that some people started getting nervous about paying their bills. “My biggest concern with not getting paid is more for my employees than for me. I have enough money in savings to pay my bills for the next month, but there are a lot of employees that don’t have that. They worry about not being able to pay their rent or not being able to buy gas.” She says that if the shutdown continues she will stay as long as she possibly can.

More recently, Trump has signed a bill saying that the government is re-opened for the next three weeks. During the upcoming weeks the negotiations over the wall will continue. if the Republicans and Democrats don’t come to an agreement Trump has no problem declaring a national emergency or shutting down the government again.