The Shutdown: What Not to Eat

And other ways the partial closure is affecting Americans
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2019 10:39 AM CST
What the Shutdown Means Now
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., center, speaks as she stands next to Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., left, and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., right, following their meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Welcome to day 22: Starting Saturday, the partial government shutdown became the longest such closure in American history. About 800,000 federal workers received blank pay statements Friday as politicians in both parties continued to maneuver and consider their options, the AP reports. President Trump pressed Congress to find a solution other than declaring a national emergency to fund his wall, while the White House mulled other funding options, such as drawing on the $13.9 billion marked for the Army Corps of Engineers following 2017 floods and hurricanes—despite the fact that some states are still rebuilding—or using asset forfeiture funds, like money grabbed from drug kingpins. Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi accused Trump of trying to distract people from the Mueller probe: "This is a big diversion, and he's a master of diversion." For more:

  • Poor HUD: Vox breaks the shutdown down into 12 interesting flowcharts. A few examples: While defense is the biggest department (by number of employees) not affected by the shutdown, Homeland Security is the most affected. The highest furlough rate (95%) is at Housing and Urban Development. The states with the most affected federal workers, per 100,000 residents: Hawaii, Montana, Maryland, and Delaware.
  • Don't eat that: CNN lists 77 effects of the shutdown, including the crippling of FDA food inspections. While most foreign food inspections are still being done, inspectors have curtailed nearly all inspections of US food-making facilities—meaning, for example, that they aren't looking for listeria in ice cream, E. coli in romaine lettuce, and salmonella in breakfast cereal, per NBC News.
  • Snowballs in winter: The US could see a "snowball" effect if the shutdown drags on—Trump has warned that might very well happen—including the stoppage of food-stamp payments, which could throw 38 million people into even worse poverty; the end of funding for the court system, which would reduce it to "essential work"; and the "exodus of civil servants to the private sector ... or into the streets in protest," per the Atlantic.
  • Back pay: Congress has passed a bill to give federal workers back pay after the shutdown, and Trump has apparently told Mitch McConnell he plans to sign it, per the Huffington Post. The Senate passed it unanimously and the House nearly so, with seven House Republicans voting against it.
  • Tree thieves: Joshua Tree National Park is temporarily closing to clean up after multiple Joshua trees were damaged or stolen, CNN reports. "We've never seen this level of out-of-bounds camping," says park Superintendent David Smith. "...Joshua trees were actually cut down in order to make new roads."
  • Pay for parks: The National Park Foundation—a charity that helps fund the parks system—has started a funding drive to repair US parks once the shutdown is over, NBC News reports.
  • Pay for a wall: A GoFundMe drive that raised $20 million for the government to build a wall on the US-Mexico border is being at least partly refunded, the Hill reports. Brian Kolfage, the US veteran behind the plan, says the government can't accept the donations for now, so a new non-profit has been created to build the wall without government help.

(Meanwhile, a US airport has been forced to shut down a terminal.)

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