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Partial government shutdown looms amidst Republican dogfight

By Masao Suzuki |
January 19, 2018
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San José, CA - A partial government shutdown is possible Friday night, Jan. 19. This would be a first - where one party controls the House of Representatives, the Senate and the presidency, as the Republicans do today. The latest sign that the Republicans continue to squabble is that President Trump tweeted a criticism of the Republican temporary funding bill that passed in the House of Representatives.

Behind the shutdown is Trump’s attempt to use the 800,000 undocumented youth who signed up for the DACA program, which allowed them to work and drive, as hostages to get his wall on the Mexican border; ending the diversity visa that brings in many African immigrants, and limiting legal immigration.

Funding for the federal government actually ran out last Oct. 1, and temporary spending agreements pushed the deadline back. Even if no spending bill is passed by Friday night, most of the federal government: Social Security, Medicare, and the military will continue to operate. Mail will be delivered and air traffic controllers will continue work at airports.

However, many civilian federal workers would be furloughed without pay starting Monday. As the shutdown continues, national parks could close, government and military contractors would not be paid, and many so-called ‘non-essential’ services would be suspended.

A much bigger financial hurdle for the federal government comes in late March or early April. The federal debt ceiling will stop the government from continuing to borrow and spend, unless there is an agreement to increase the debt limit. Given the large budget deficit, not being able to borrow would mean immediate cuts to Social Security, Medicare or military spending, as there is not enough other spending to cut.