Starting the New Year on Shaky Feet: Government Shutdown Threatens Communities Across the Country

By Jia Williams, Opinion Editor

The country has just passed the 31-day mark of the partial government shutdown, and it seems unlikely that either side will back down from their positions. Trump’s request for $5.7 billion to fund the border wall has been met with resistance from the Senate Democrats who are adamant on solving the issue of illegal immigration through other means. The recent meeting on January 9th also came up empty-handed, with President Trump walking out after being denied funding once more by House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi. The ensuing shutdown has affected 800,000 federal employees including National Park Service personnel, TSA workers, and Coast Guard employees.

The shutdown has been felt in all national parks and historical sites, with many closing up indefinitely. With no service personnel to clear roads, manage bathrooms, and act as safety guides, it is more dangerous to visit and enjoy time in nature. This holds especially true for those who enjoy hiking, running, or camping in woods. Delays in the deployment of search-and-rescue teams are also expected, which poses a problem considering the impending winter weather.

The shutdown also caused delays for many Americans who travelled this past holiday season. The cut off of funding for TSA employee paychecks has caused many workers to call in “sick” or even quit in protest of the shutdown, reducing national safety.

The effects of this stalemate have been felt in communities all over the country. The lack of paychecks has left many furloughed federal employees to devise ways to save money, whether it means eating out less, shopping less, or staying home more often. Some employees have even found themselves in our very own school. Fairfax County Public Schools recently held two substitute teacher hiring events and a few employees are working around the county as substitute teachers in our public schools. The resulting impact on local businesses has many business owners shortening store hours and understaffing in stores.

Many federal employees share the sentiment that their lives have been toyed with by the government and its inability to compromise. Their lives have been thrown into disarray and until this government shutdown has been resolved, many Americans will face daily challenges trying to stay afloat as long as they can.