Early Saturday, a partial federal shutdown took hold after Democrats refused to meet President Donald Trump’s demands for $5 billion to start erecting his Mexican border wall. Mulvaney sent agency heads a memorandum late Friday, telling them to “execute plans for an orderly shutdown.”
According to WRAL news, he wrote that administration officials were “hopeful that this lapse in appropriations will be of short duration” an expectation that was widely shared. Both the House and Senate scheduled rare Saturday sessions, in order to continue negotiation. House members were told they’d get 24 hours’ notice before a vote.
This failure to come to an agreement blocks money for nine of 15 Cabinet-level departments and dozens of agencies, including the departments of Homeland Security, Transportation, Interior, Agriculture, State and Justice. The lack of funds will disrupt many government operations and the routines of 800,000 federal employees.
An estimated 420,000 workers were deemed essential and will work unpaid just days before Christmas, while 380,000 will stay home without pay. Those being furloughed include nearly everyone at NASA and 52,000 workers at the Internal Revenue Service. About 8 in 10 employees of the National Park Service will stay home and many parks were expected to close.
The Senate passed legislation ensuring workers will receive back pay, which reports say that the House seemed sure to approve. Some agencies, including the Pentagon and the departments of Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services, were already funded for the year in agreements reached earlier, and they will operate as usual.The U.S. Postal Service, busy delivering packages for the holiday season, will not be affected because it’s an independent agency.
Social Security checks will still be mailed, troops will remain on duty and food inspections will continue. Also still functioning will be the FBI, the Border Patrol and the Coast Guard. Transportation Security Administration officers will continue to staff airport checkpoints and air traffic controllers will also remain at work.