Going into day 12 of the partial government shutdown, the face-off between Democrats and President Trump over funding for a border wall—or fence or slats but not a technological solution, according to Trump—continues. Trump demands $5 billion in funding, and Democrats have held tight to $1.6 billion previously negotiated with Republicans in Congress.
Although the White House invited congressional leaders—both Republicans and Democrats—to a border security briefing, according to the Associated Press, there is no reason to assume that the event will change minds or lead to a resolution. A previous meeting between Trump, Pelosi, and Schumer in mid-December didn’t head off the shutdown.
Border security may be a political football, but people and companies face consequences of the shutdown, which has affected nine federal agencies out of 15. They include the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, State, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Treasury, Agriculture, Commerce, and Interior.
About 420,000 employees are working without pay as their jobs are considered essential. That includes meteorologists, food safety inspectors, border patrol agents, and TSA airport security personnel. The IRS continues to process tax payments, but not returns. The U.S. Postal Service continues to operate, as it is an independent agency and has its own income. Similarly, Social Security checks will continue to go to recipients.
Another 380,000 federal employees are on unpaid leave and many services are unavailable. That the Smithsonian museums and National Zoo are now closed may be an annoyance, but there are more practical concerns. The EPA and SEC are not operating. Businesses can’t get updated economic reports that are important to decision-making. And Native American tribes lose funding for such operations as healthcare clinics, snow plowing, and other basic services.