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When US authorities suspend work, government agencies, museums and parks are closed. Why does this happen so often 

The nearest “Shatdaun”, probably, will come on December 21 – and the wall with Mexico is to blame.

The inscription near the Abraham Lincoln Memorial: “All national parks are closed due to the suspension of the government” Photo Getty

The US government will partially stop work at midnight on December 21, unless by this point the Republicans and Democrats agree on a budget for the next fiscal year. In this case, hundreds of thousands of employees of ministries and departments will go on unpaid leave.

The “break” in the work of the US authorities is not a regular, but frequent situation: in the entire history of the Americans 19 “shutdowns” have survived. This time, the main reason for disagreement on the budget was the financing of the wall on the border with Mexico.

What are the new differences

Donald Trump is building a wall on the border of the United States and Mexico to protect against illegal migration and drug trafficking. This is one of his main election promises. The president demands that the project be paid by Mexico, but local authorities are against it.

As a result, the first stages of construction are paid from the taxes of Americans. Judging by polls , the majority of US residents are against the wall. Trump ‘s last idea is that Mexico will still pay for the wall through a new trade agreement, but, as American media have found out , this statement is groundless.

The budget provides 1.3 billion dollars for “border security.” Trump asked for $ 5 billion to be allocated for this purpose in 2019.

Why would Trump get Congress consent

Each year, Congress must approve the budget for the next fiscal year. After that, the president approves the bill or vetoes – in this case, the document returns to Congress.

The budget must approve both houses of Congress – the House of Representatives and the Senate. They are controlled by the Republicans. The main struggle is unfolding in the Senate, where the votes of Trump supporters are not enough. The budget should receive at least 60 votes out of 100, but the Republicans have only 51 seats in the chamber.

Congressmen can avoid interrupting government work by adopting resolutions on temporary funding. This gives additional time to discuss the budget, but it cannot last forever.

Republicans and Democrats have repeatedly stated that they do not want to “close” the government – but have not yet reached a compromise. The President noted that he “would be proud” to stop the work of the authorities if no funds were allocated to the wall.

What threatens the suspension of government work

  • In 2013, due to the “shatdaun”, 850 thousand of 2.1 million state employees went to unpaid leave . A comparable number is expected at the end of 2018. Congress should later recover the costs, but there are no iron guarantees for this;
  • The leave will go mainly to those whose work is not regarded as critical to the country. For example, these are civil servants from trade, defense, culture, education, the environment, health care, national security, construction, police, transport, social security and the judicial system;
  • In any case, the work will be continued by the president, members of Congress and strategic institutions. For example, army, police, emergency services, post office, power stations, air traffic control, courts, tax and prisons. Many vital public services will also remain available: including in the field of social insurance;
  • There is no definite time limit for the shatdaun: it will stop when the Congress comes to an agreement. “Usually we are talking about days and weeks, not months,” said Mark Goldwain, senior vice chairman of the Committee for the Responsible Federal Budget;
  • “Shatdaun” does not save money, but, on the contrary, causes costs. For example, the closure of federal museums and national parks (for example, the Statue of Liberty) reduces revenues from tourism, and the state is forced to pay additional fines and missed payments.

What is the next suspension of the work of the US authorities is unique

The US government began to temporarily “close” after 1974, when the country’s budget adoption process was revised. The longest breaks lasted from September to October 2013 (18 days) and from December 1995 to January 1996 (21 days).

Suspending the work of the US government happens so often, since congressmen from the two parties come to a standstill when discussing spending for the next year – and looking for compromises. “Shatdauny” have become familiar in some way: at least the government has a detailed action plan for each department. In other countries, similar situations are impossibledue to a different principle of separation of powers.

Not always “shatdaun” led to the temporary dismissal of employees – only in eight out of 19 cases. The last time this happened in January 2018 and lasted two days – and this was the first time during the Trump presidency. The controversy was the issue of immigrant children and the construction of the wall with Mexico.

If the government stops work in December, it will do so in a situation where both houses of Congress and the White House are controlled by one party. This is only the second time in the history of the United States – the first one occurred just at the beginning of the year. Usually, such conditions, on the contrary, allow the authorities to avoid “closure”.

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