The Broader Impact of the Government Shutdown

Ashka Patel, Staff Writer

Beginning Dec. 22, 2018 and ending on Jan. 25, 2019, the United States’ government shutdown went down in history as the longest shutdown the nation has ever experienced. While some parts of the government remained open due to already-funded major programs, many others were either partially or completely shut down. Hundreds of thousands of government employees were directly impacted by the shutdown, but there has also be a significant indirect impact on the rest of the nation.

During a shutdown like this one, many public institutions faced repercussions regarding aid and grant funding, which could have resulted in negative consequences for the current and aspiring college students. For example, the National Science Foundation suspended reviews of grant proposals, meaning that many schools missed out on requested grants. These grants fund research and various projects on campus, and a lack of funding could have brought these to a halt.

In terms of the college admissions process, this shutdown impacted the monetary burden of tuition. In the absence of certain necessary documents, including IRS tax transcripts, students and their families are being forced to estimate the cost of college on their own for the 2019-2020 school year. This poses a problem for all families regardless of socioeconomic status, as the IRS’s involvement is necessary to obtain a conclusive financial aid estimate and therefore a proper estimate of a student’s tuition. The lack of paperwork coupled with less financial aid opportunity poses potential problems for Irvington students, as well as for students across the nation.

On a national scale, many federal programs could be impacted if the shutdown happens again. The Department of Housing and Urban Development serves the community by providing affordable housing to those who need it through subsidies. Due to the government shutdown, those who were once subsidized are now required to pay full rent, causing problems for citizens across the nation. In light of the shutdown, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has added more money to accounts for February in an effort to give out much-needed benefits if the program ever gets defunded again. This means that people will still be able to get food stamps and subsidized lunches. However, if the shutdown were to happen for longer than this one, this too could change, as the US Department of Agriculture only has limited funding to maintain these subsidies. Additionally, new applicants for Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare had to face a wait during the shutdown, but all people already under these programs were not impacted since the programs were considered “necessary spending.”

Furthermore, both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decreased the number of inspections they perform. The FDA claimed that during the shutdown, the department had missed around a few dozen food inspections. Inspections of “high-risk” food facilities, which handle things like raw meat, continued. However, inspections of “low-risk” facilities that handle items like cookies and crackers were not conducted, contributing to the growing list of problems resulting from the partial government shutdown.

The government shutdown created problems that impacted each and every citizen. It is important that Donald Trump and the federal government address these issues as soon as possible because they contribute to a detriment in people’s financial stability and overall lifestyles.