When It’s Off: What does a United States government shutdown look like?


The Austin Capital Building, built in 1885, serves as the chambers for the Texas Legislature, the Governor’s office, and a popular Austin tourist site.

Tuesday, January 23rd ended a three-day government shutdown,, the first to occur in 2018. The last shutdown took place in 2013, ending on October 17th after lasting for three weeks. These brief authorized momentary official pauses can lead to federal standby, where governmental productivity ceases, causing detriment for local government employees and students, who are often the forgotten victims of a shutdown.


What is a government shutdown?

The most common source of a shutdown is political disagreement. In the case of disagreement on a vital financial decision for the year, the federal government, including all nonessential agencies and local branches such as the Parks and Recreation Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, temporarily close.


Why did this shutdown occur?

The most recent shutdown was the result of Democrats and Republicans being unable to come to a consensus on the DACA policy (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), a program that allows the children of immigrants to attend school and obtain work authorization. The Democratic party is working in defense of the policy, to maintain the program, while the Republican party is trying to forgo the policy. With a goal to agree upon a budget for the existing or new program that would satisfy the Republicans and Democrats, Congress worked to find a compromise that most lawmakers could agree on. The budget disagreement prohibits the advancement of the fiscal year, and therefore requires the shutdown.


Who does a shutdown affect?

A government shutdown can become a matter of concern for those employed by local government establishments, as the employees will be furloughed, meaning temporarily laid off,  with docked pay. TIME reported that, during the 2013 shutdown, approximately 850,000 workers were temporarily unemployed. There is currently no data about those at risk during this most recent shutdown.


Who DOESN’T a shutdown affect?

A common worry is that the college application and financial aid process will be upset. Concern arose due to the fact that the Department of Education is a federal governmental department.  This, however, is an inessential concern.


“I don’t want everyone to freak out,” Ms. Jessica Enyohia, associate Ann Richards College Advisor, said. “Pell Grants are not running out or affected, but it is always important to turn in documents regardless of what is going on in the world.”