With the longest U.S. government shutdown in history coming to a close within the following weeks, despite the persistent coverage from the national media, the general public seems to have no knowledge of what a government shutdown actually is and what it entails.
According to a poll run by The Hill, only 31 percent of registered voters (of all races, gender, and political ideologies) fully grasped the concept of a partial government shutdown.
Below is an explanation of what a government shutdown is, who it effects, and how you can help.
A government shutdown typically occurs when the President and the chamber(s) of Congress are unable to resolve disagreements over budget allocations before the existing budget cycle ends. In this case, the budget being funding for President Trump’s border wall.
During a shutdown, all federal employees deemed “essential” are ordered to report to work, despite not being promised a paycheck. A vast number of employees have been furloughed as well.
Federal employees furloughed or working without pay include:
87.92 percent of Homeland Security employees
About 58 percent of the Department of Treasury
71.33 percent of FDA employees
100 percent of EPA employees
50,000 airport security workers
All air traffic controllers
All active members of the United States Coast Guard
During this time, government funded operations such as the IRS, the Smithsonian, the National Zoo, and some national parks will remain either shutdown or heavily understaffed until the government opens.
With over 800,000 people missing paychecks for weeks on end, many are turning to local food banks for assistance. Some can’t afford transportation, rent, or even medication due to the lack of pay. Food banks such as Feeding America are connecting furloughed workers with emergency food resources and encouraging them to visit local pantries.
Food pantries like the Low Country Food Bank and Harvest Hope Food Bank are open across the state of South Carolina in order to assist any federal workers in need.
The website My Fed Benefits provides an interactive map to any furloughed federal employee looking for assistance programs.
You can help further aid those affected by donating to organizations such as the previously mentioned local food banks, World Central Kitchen, National Diaper Bank, Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund , and the United For Us Fund.
You can also volunteer at local food banks, shelters, and the salvation army.
On January 25, the United States government was officially reopened until February 15.