Photo by Katie Moum on Unsplash

The Effects of the Shutdown

As we close in on nearly a month of the partial government shutdown a few things are becoming more and more apparent, that being the strain that government agencies are beginning to come under and the employees that are living without pay for weeks, which amounts to about 800,000 federal employees living without pay. The agencies affected by the shutdown vary and the amounts that they are affected vary as well. For example, the Social Security Agency will maintain its full operating capacity with no pay stoppages due to the agency receiving funding back in September 2018 but most other government agencies aren’t so lucky.

The agency that keeps popping up in the news is the TSA or Transportation Security Administration, most well known for security at airports. TSA agents have taken to protesting the shutdown in a few unique ways like playing uncensored rap music on the overhead speakers and calling in sick in droves. For a little context, TSA agents do not make incredible wages with the average base pay ranging from $27,882 — $45,000 a year depending on location. This leads to the larger branch of Homeland Security in which agencies like Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement are living without funding with employees still expected to work due to about 87 percent or 212,500 employees being considered essential staff. Homeland Security is one of the countries largest agencies including things like the disaster relief FEMA, the Coast Guard, the Secret Service and has quite a history with the Department of Homeland Security dating back to President George W. Bush and 9/11 in response to the terrorist attack.

Parks, museums, and national parks are subject to some volatility as the staff has drastically slimmed due to the shutdown, so one day they’ll be open and the next closed. Volunteers are offering service in order to keep them running but the workload is sometimes too much.

In the science department, some agencies are unaffected while others are completely stalled. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health are largely unfazed while agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have had to grind to a halt after being required to furlough most of their employees due to a lack of funding. On the food end, the Agriculture Department is still inspecting meats, poultry, eggs, and other products but the Food and Drug Administration has stopped routine inspections of high-risk foods like fish, other seafood, fruits, and vegetables.

Law enforcement bureaus are being affected as well, like the FBI and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) continuing to work without funding and pay. The FBI released a statement about continuing is federal investigations because “all operations of the F.B.I. are directed toward national security and investigations of violations of law involving protection of life and property.”

Another worry is that with tax season looming is the impact that the shutdown will have on the IRS. Currently, the IRS is working at 12 percent its normal capacity but is expected to call its employees back soon.

A Chad Freeman spoke on the effects that the shutdown is having on him and his family. He is an airline pilot that flies through bases and makes shipments and has been out of work for weeks with the shutdown. He currently has a pregnant wife which he is supporting and spoke about how he had to sell off childhood mementos in order to pay bills and support his family.

A journalist just trying to get by. Everywhere to find me.

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