On Jan. 12, the United States entered the longest government shutdown in history. Negotiations between President Donald Trump and lawmakers have been frozen for more than three weeks. On Jan. 11, 2019, hundreds of thousands of federal workers missed their first full paychecks, including a small number at the University of Georgia.
Where do the negotiations stand?
The Senate Democrats and a handful of Republicans blocked a House-passed bill on Dec. 21, 2018 that would have allowed more time for the two parties to reach a budget agreement. The budget concerned a spending deal that lacked the money President Trump demanded for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Because the parties could not reach a consensus, the government was sent into a shutdown.
How long did other shutdowns last?
The current shutdown began Dec. 22, 2018, and is the longest shutdown in U.S. history at 26 full days as of press time. The longest standing shutdown before now occurred in December 1995 and lasted 21 days.
Are SNAP benefits affected?
Yes. Around 1.6 million Georgians who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for food stamps are at risk of going without food if the shutdown continues, according to a statement from Georgia’s Division of Family and Children Services.
In accordance to a decision made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to protect SNAP participants’ benefits, DFCS released the February allotment of food stamps to Georgia recipients early to ensure they wouldn’t go hungry as the shutdown continues.
If the shutdown lasts until March, officials said they could not promise these benefits will continue.
Will our mail still be delivered?
Yes. Some agencies are not affected from the shutdown because they don’t get their funding through the congressional appropriations process. The U.S. Postal Service is the most notable of these agencies, which operates on the income from postage and other items it sells.
Is my food safe to eat?
Maybe. The Food and Drug Administration has suspended most routine inspections of domestic food-processing facilities. The FDA performs routine inspections every few years, so most of the country’s non-meat food facilities wouldn’t have been inspected since the shutdown anyway. As of Jan. 15, the FDA has resumed inspections on some high-risk foods. The facilities due for an inspection since the shutdown started will be affected, but the overall effects are small.
Will I get a tax refund if the government is still shut down?
Yes. As of Jan. 14, Trump administration lawyers ruled that refunds could be processed during the shutdown.
Can I still file for student federal aid?
Yes. The U.S. Department of Education is fully funded and is not affected by the shutdown. The federal aid office is still up and running and federal financial aid for the 2018-2019 school year was approved months ago.
How is research affected at UGA?
A small number of research projects funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service have been stopped and personnel paid by these grants have temporarily been assigned to other projects.
David Lee, UGA’s vice president of research, said agencies that have been shut down do not issue new grants, contracts or modifications to existing grants or contracts. Lee said faculty often rely on renewed grants to fund experienced research teams.