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The Federal Government Has Shut Down 

  • Flickr creative commons / rrenomeron
In the early hours of Jan. 20, on the 1-year anniversary of Donald Trump's inauguration, the United States government shuttered.

While the U.S. House of Representatives managed to pass yet another stop-gap funding bill to keep the lights on until Feb. 16, the U.S. Senate couldn't agree to pass the House resolution by Friday's midnight shutdown deadline.

Senate Democrats wouldn't vote on a bill that didn't include a solution to the pending end to Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama-era program that offers deportation protections to some 800,000 young undocumented immigrants who arrived in the states as children. Nearly 125,000 of those immigrants live in Texas.

Senate Republicans, meanwhile, sided with the House bill that would keep the government running for another four weeks and return funding to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), an insurance program for low-income kids and mothers that Congress let expire in September. Roughly 400,000 Texans are covered by CHIP. Republicans, who are usually the last to rally for subsidized health care, added the 6-year CHIP extension to their bill to attract Democrat votes — and to say the Dems are voting against poor kids. But without a DACA solution, a program that arguably also helps poor children, the progressive side of the Senate wouldn't budge.

Naturally, both parties have vehemently blamed the other for forcing this budget shutdown. But while our stubborn, divided Congress inches toward a resolution — where does that leave us?

Mail will get delivered, U.S. troops will stay at their posts, food stamps will still be handed out, and a handful other "essential" services will stay up and running — but if the shutdown stretches to Monday, nearly 1 million federal workers will be barred from work without pay. Last time this happened in 2013 for 16 days (remember Sen. Ted Cruz's rise to fame?), it cost the U.S. an estimated $24 billion.

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January 12, 2022

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