How Georgia State has been affected by the government shutdown

The streets of Washington were devoid of federal workers as the shutdown slugged on. With several nonessential government departments at standstill, Congress played a political tennis match between the Democrat-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate, with bills to reopen the government dead on arrival due to a lack of funding for the infamous wall.

On Dec. 22, the U.S. government entered into a shutdown that would — 22 days later on Jan. 12 — become the longest in history.

As the shutdown stretched into it’s 35th day on Friday, President Trump and Congress came to an agreement to reopen the government for three weeks, with no budget modifications. After Feb. 15, if no agreement is made on the new budget, the government could return to a shutdown.

What is a government shutdown?

To simplify how a government shutdown happens, every year Congress works to divide up funds and assign money to different departments and agencies. They then pass this funding bill and the president signs it. When Congress is unable to agree on funding, the government enters a shutdown.

So, how did we get to the 2019 shutdown? On August 23, Congress passed a bill that funded three of the 12 departments. When deciding where to appropriate the remaining funds, on Sept. 18, Congress agreed to $1.3 billion for current border-security, including fencing, levee walls and technology.

President Trump threatened to shutdown the government if $5 billion for border wall was not included. On Dec. 20, Congress worked on passing a bill but was unable to and that night the government shutdown.

What does the shutdown even mean and who is affected? Government employees deemed “nonessential” are sent home and do not work or get paid until the government reopens. NASA, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing and Development all have furloughed employees, alongside 52,000 IRS staff members.

Employees that are classified as “essential” must continue to work without pay. This means that workers have been required to show up to work every day for a month without pay for their time there. Those working without pay include TSA workers, border patrol and coast guard employees and FBI and DEA agents.

A report from the senate appropriations committee puts the numbers of those affected at 420,000 for essential employees and 380,000 non-essential employees.

The Georgia State perspective

The Signal has worked to confirm that the Military Outreach Center, which handles educational benefits for military students and dependents, is unaffected by the shutdown. For students affected and in need, the campus food pantry, Panther Pantry, is open for assistance.

Some students have been impacted and have seen the local effects.

Natalie Golloher
Former student, graduated Dec. 2018
According to Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute, Medicaid will remain funded through Sept. 30, since that marks the end of the fiscal year.

According to Natalie Golloher, who graduated in Dec. 2018, the restrictions on Medicaid aren’t affecting everyone, just those affected significantly like pediatricians.

“My son’s Medicaid re-approval has been postponed until the shutdown is over,” Golloher said.

Farukh Abdul Rahim
Current student
While the distribution of financial aid should not be impacted, students experiencing trouble with the online FAFSA application may reach a roadblock. Freshman Farukh Abdul Rahim experienced trouble completing his application when trying to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

The FAFSA website indicates that some agencies that students rely on to complete FAFSA and work with the IRS are experiencing problems relating to the shutdown which may impact whether students get their full aid or not.

“I tried to call [the IRS] but nobody works there. This s*** lasted for a month and now my payment for classes is due today,” Rahim said.

Aray Bruce
Current student
Atlanta has seen the local impacts with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport experiencing delays and nationally with regulating agencies operating at lower levels. Bruce notes some of the highlights in recent news.

“I think it’s insane the fact that the government shutdown is affecting people’s lives, and the fact that food isn’t being checked or regulated. I heard someone brought a gun on the [plane], that’s insane.”

Kenleigh Watkins
Current student, 23, Film
Album 88 general manager and film student Kenleigh Watkins said her family was affected during the shutdown since they had to travel.

According to CNN, the FDA had only a few weeks left before their funding ran out during the shutdown, which would have resulted in a drop in productivity for approving new medicines.

“The government shutdown when my parents were traveling and there was a really long line. With the FDA, my mother has a lot of ailments and a lot of her drugs are FDA approved and if they are not approving these then what will have to those who are really sick,” she said.