Government Shutdown Updates: Where Things Stand
Updated Jan. 25
Day 35: What’s been happening?
President Trump agreed on Friday to reopen the federal government for three weeks while negotiations proceed over how to secure the nation’s southern border. The move was a surprise retreat after a monthlong standoff with Democrats over billions of dollars for his proposed border wall.
Mr. Trump’s announcement paved the way for Congress to quickly pass spending bills that he would sign to restore normal operations at a series of federal agencies until Feb. 15 and begin paying again the 800,000 federal workers who have been furloughed or forced to work without paychecks. Read more here.
The news came after flights were delayed in the Northeast, with the Federal Aviation Administration blaming it on a shortage of air traffic controllers as a result of the government shutdown. Additionally, federal employees missed another paycheck Friday.
[See how the effects of the government shutdown have piled up.]
So what happens on Feb. 15?
Over the next three weeks, a House-Senate conference committee representing both parties will try to reach a consensus on a border security plan.
If Republicans and Democrats cannot reach an agreement by Feb. 15, Mr. Trump indicated that he was ready to shut down the government once again, or declare a national emergency, which the White House argues would allow him to build the wall without lawmakers’ approval. (That approach would almost certainly face legal challenges.)
We could hear more about Mr. Trump’s position in the State of the Union address, which was originally scheduled for Tuesday and was postponed at the urging of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It was not immediately clear when the speech might proceed.
Federal workers felt the pressure
When the shutdown began, just over half of the roughly 800,000 federal workers who were left without pay continued to work, including members of the Coast Guard and food safety inspectors. The number of people working grew as the Trump administration reinterpreted longstanding rules, often to the benefit of the president’s base.
Federal workers who have in the past turned down opportunities to enter the lucrative private sector are now feeling less certain about that decision. Some have already left the government or are talking about leaving.
“They’re relying on the pure good intentions of the higher skilled work force,” said Matt Linton, a computer security specialist in California who worked for NASA’s Ames Research Center for 14 years. “And that’s what they drain down the most quickly in these stupid shutdowns.”
The rippling effects on the economy
The White House acknowledged recently that the shutdown had a far greater toll on the United States economy than previously thought.
Americans remain relatively upbeat about their personal finances, but became increasingly worried about the economy during the shutdown, according to a recent poll conducted for The Times by the online research firm SurveyMonkey.
Low-income Americans whose leases are subsidized by the government worried about their rent because the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is closed, could not make payments to landlords.
Some of the most vulnerable Americans — including the homeless, older people and those one crisis away from the streets — felt the burden most keenly. Without payments from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, nonprofit groups that support low-income renters were also struggling. Many other social safety net programs were facing similar crises.
Legions of contractors were put out of work and, unlike federal employees working without pay, they have no expectation of recovering the missed wages.