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What does the government shutdown really mean? 3 ways it’s affecting you

Today marks the first of the new congressional session as Democrats officially take control of the House. There is a hope that in our second week (13th day) of a partial government shutdown that a deal can be made to fully open federal facilities in the next couple of days.

But the two sides have not been able to come to terms on a spending bill wherein which border security remains the most polarizing term to agree upon.

The President and conservative pundits blame the Dems, and the left also isn’t shy to point the finger the other way, but what’s far more important than culpability is what’s at stake in the process.

While only a “partial” shutdown, it still has its effects, and it’s important that we as citizens understand what they are. By definition, a government shutdown is pretty literal.

The majority of federal government gets its funding from annual budget appropriations decided by Congress. While a large portion of the government has such funding in place, there are other agencies that have been operating on a series of temporary extensions since the budget year began Oct. 1

Since the government shut down in December last year, about 800,000 federal employees and the citizens who depend on them have been affected. Of those, 380,000 employees were furloughed, meaning they are out of work without pay.

That included 96 percent of NASA, more than 80 percent of the National Park Service, 30 percent of Department of Transportation, and 5 percent of Department of Housing and Urban Development, just to name a few.

It’s when terms like ‘government shutdown’ are repeated over and over again without context that desensitization happens. The government shutdown is real, and here are three ways it’s affecting what’s around us.


The Smithsonian Institution, home to Good Night, Gorilla, was forced to close because of the federal shutdown. They announced Wednesday that all of the Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo were closed to the public.

They, like many federal institutions, relied on funds from previous years to stay open through the first of the year but planned to close its doors on Jan. 2 if the government shutdown continued.

Smithsonian spokesperson Linda St. Thomas told WAMU’s Sasha-Ann Simons,

“It’s really disappointing for our public because we know so many people come to Washington with plans to visit the Smithsonian museums, which are free. And they really plan on that being a part of their visit to the city.”

But don’t worry, the animals will continue to be cared for regardless of the shutdown.

National Parks

The Los Angeles Times reported garbage and human waste pile-up in Yosemite National Park about two weeks into the shutdown. Due to the shutdown, park resources like restrooms have been limited, forcing park visitors to go outside.

The only issue is that they haven’t been following the park services’ recommendation to pack and carry out or bury their solid waste. As a result, some areas of the park, including “all snow play areas,” have been closed.

Dakota Snider, a resident of Yosemite Valley told The Associated Press on Monday,

“It’s a free-for-all. It’s so heartbreaking. There is more trash and human waste and disregard for the rules than I’ve seen in my four years living here.”

Among other national parks that have been affected or have shut down are Joshua Tree, Pinnacles National Park in California, and at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.

Other parks like Arches and Canyonlands in Utah and Yellowstone National Park have announced full or partial closures because of personnel shortages.

Loss on Loans

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Along with parks and zoos, NPR‘s Shannon Van Sant reported last month that government agencies who’ve given out loans, too, have had to make changes due to the government shutdown.

That means a delay in housing development grants and housing quality inspections as well as a hold on loans for new homebuyers.

Furthermore, USA Today is reporting The Small Business Administration won’t be able to process loan applications that startups and small-business owners use to get funding.

A lot of times, whether it’s a Presidential race or primaries, there’s a good portion of individuals who believe that their votes don’t matter or that the elected official won’t make decisions that affect their lives.

Well, the government shutdown is a direct result of the interworkings of the executive office. Real people are missing out on the resources they need and real lives are being changed because of it.

We should know what’s going on with our government and next time there’s a conversation about a government shutdown you’ll be informed on how it’s really affecting you.