The Effects Remain: Government Shutdown

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Jolie Morrison

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The Effects Remain: Government Shutdown

Photograph taken by National Geographic photographer Win McNamee.

Photograph taken by National Geographic photographer Win McNamee.

Photograph taken by National Geographic photographer Win McNamee.

Photograph taken by National Geographic photographer Win McNamee.

In the days leading to the new year, President Donald Trump called for a partial government shutdown as the result of an ongoing dispute regarding Congress’s refusal to fund Trump’s wall on the Mexican-American border. Commencing at midnight (EST) December 22, 2018, and concluding January 25, 2019, this was the second government shutdown to occur during Donald Trump’s presidency and the longest in modern American history. After denying President Trump $5.7 billion worth of federal funding, Democratic party members stood their ground for thirty-five days. Though used as a ploy to extract funds for the border wall, the effects of Donald Trump’s shutdown have gone far beyond the walls of Congress and into the cities, parks, and homes of America.

Photo by Rich Pedroncelli

One government shutdown result was the delay of 800,000  federal workers’ paychecks while the State, Justice, Treasury, Transportation and Homeland Security departments all received cutbacks in funding, according to the Washington Post. Among the federal workers who experienced the delay in paychecks were the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers who oversee airport security. Many officers called in sick while some quit as a means of protesting their inadequate working circumstances while others took to airports with signs to protest. The shutdowns consequences resulted in unprecedented flight risks as well as delays in travel for thousands of individuals. Business heads and administration leaders, such as Sara Nelson, president of the Flight Attendant’s Association, joined the action calling for a nationwide worker’s strike to end the shutdown. Finally, air traffic controllers called in sick bringing air traffic to a standstill. This action led to the end of the government shutdown.

Photo by Gina Ferazzi for Los Angeles Times

Another result of the shutdown was the many national parks which experienced cutbacks in service funding, accumulating an $11 billion in maintenance backlog. As the shutdown progressed, trash cans overflowed, toilets were not serviced, and vandalizing trespassing took place due to the Trump Administration’s neglect in closing national parks. This matter hit the Coachella Valley close to home as Joshua Tree National Park suffered damage from which it may take up to 300 years to recover. The park was severely understaffed and gates were left open, some visitors drove their vehicles off roads, vandalized rock formations with graffiti, started illegal campfires, and cut down the famed trees, as reported by Antonia Blumberg of The Huffington Post. While the Trump administration received $1.375 billion dollars towards the funding for border barriers as a result of the shutdown, national parks such as Joshua Tree received years of irreparable damage and loss of some of the earth’s most fragile natural beauty.

Photo by The Washington Post

It appeared that the desire for control to force Congress to comply with funding for the wall outweighed basic human necessities. Families across America whose main source of income comes from federal work experienced the harshest effects of the shutdown. Families struggled to provide meals and adequate toiletries as well as pay basic bills like rent/mortgages and utilities. And many furloughed government workers used food pantries as a means of providing for their families during the unpaid thirty-five days. It will be hard for some families to recover from the negative impact on their credit.

These are just a few of the lingering effects of the partial government shutdown. As a Nation whose cornerstone includes integrity and mutual respect for the other, the shutdown brought to light the harsh reality of the work needed to build not a wall, but an inclusive and equitable system of governance. Let us hope we are up to that task.


Berman, Mark, and Lisa Rein. “What Happens When the Government Shuts Down: Late

Paychecks, Closed Museums and More.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 22 Dec.

  1. Web. 23 Feb. 2019.




Blumberg, Antonia. “Joshua Tree May Feel The Effects Of Government Shutdown For Hundreds

Of Years.” The Huffington Post., 28 Jan. 2019. Web. 22 Feb.



Collins, Michael, David Jackson, and John Fritze. “Donald Trump Declares National Emergency

to Free up Billions of Dollars for Border Wall.” USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information

Network, 15 Feb. 2019. Web. 22 Feb. 2019.



Gibbens, Sarah. “National Parks Face Years of Damage from Government Shutdown.” National                             

Geographic. National Geographic, 07 Jan. 2019. Web. 23 Feb. 2019.



“#ShutdownStories: The Impact of the Government Shutdown.” BBC News. BBC, 24 Jan. 2019.

Web. 23 Feb. 2019. <>.


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