The government has been shut down for over four weeks, rendering state-run institutions and nearly 800,000 people across the country to go this month without an income.
According to Allan Saxe, political science associate professor, the cause of the shut down is because of Congress and the White House’s disagreement on some budget items, primarily funding the proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall.
Likely very little are affected by the shutdown, Saxe said in an email. Student aid is still forthcoming and though some families are affected, all will receive back pay. When the government shuts down, only nonessential workers are temporarily laid off.
“[It’s a] terrible inconvenience, but not a national tragedy,” Saxe said.
Areas of research such as Health and Human Services, and the Department of Defense are not affected because they are funded by agencies with full appropriations, said Duane Dimos, vice president for research.
The majority of UTA’s research funding is through federal funding, Dimos said.
“One of the biggest funding agencies for us that we do worry about, that is not funded, is the National Science Foundation, so, you know, we’re paying close attention,” Dimos said.
Projects that have already been approved continue forward with no change or effects.
The worst this shutdown can do is cause delays in new projects being reviewed and cause funding to take a while to come through, Dimos said. For example, there may have been a student ready to begin their final research project and now they can’t.
“We all feel badly about the fact that there are things that the government does that we all expect it to do, and the people that do those things are either sitting at home not being paid, or they’re being, you know, asked to continue working without being paid,” Dimos said. “As citizens, we all feel badly about that.”
Political science professor Thomas Marshall said the laid-off 800,000 federal employees have non-critical status, and some are being told to come in to work without pay, which strikes him as an odd business practice.
“Three-day shutdowns affect almost nobody in any great inconvenient sense,” Marshall said. “Once they go on for a month, which may be the longest or next to longest shutdown that we’ve had so far, people start missing paychecks.”
Other parts of the government are deemed critical and do continue to receive payment, Marshall said.
“Members of congress are not directly and immediately affected in any obvious way; they’ve got other sources of cash,” he said. “And if it went on another 30 days, would any of them starve? I doubt it.”
Building the wall is President Donald Trump’s priority and an important issue to many Democrats who have differing views on the matter, therefore, there is an inability to come to an agreement, Marshall said.
He said the U.S. is in the early days of the upcoming 2020 election, and because Trump made the campaign promise of building the wall in the 2016 election, he’s probably feeling pressure to follow through. Democrats don’t feel the same way, Marshall said.
“Both sides are kind of having a pissing match over it,” Marshall said.
The shutdown is an opportunity for the Democratic party to bargain, Marshall said.
Marshall said federal employees and their families will begin to feel the pinch of the shutdown within the next 30 days, and the pressure is on for it to end.
“We’ll see if a compromise can be reached on this one,” Dimos said. “It’s going to be challenging.”