SALT LAKE CITY — Friday marks the 28th day of the government shutdown — the longest in U.S. history. Not only has the shutdown impacted 800,000 federal employees and millions of Americans who rely on government services, it has also stoked tensions between President Donald Trump and the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California.
On Wednesday, Pelosi sent Trump a letter suggesting that the president’s State of the Union address, which was scheduled for Jan. 29, be pushed back because of the shutdown. Because federal agencies including the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security haven’t been funded in almost a month, Pelosi wrote, it is unreasonable to expect them to be able to coordinate and provide adequate security during the speech.
Trump fired back on Thursday with a letter of his own, canceling Pelosi’s scheduled trip to Brussels, Egypt and Afghanistan to meet with American troops stationed abroad. Pelosi would have made the trip — which was kept secret due to security concerns — in a U.S. military plane.
“In light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay, I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate,” Trump wrote in the letter. “I also feel that, during this period, it would be better if you were in Washington negotiating with me and joining the Strong Border Security movement to end the Shutdown. Obviously, if you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative.”
He followed up the letter with a tweet Friday morning:
The heated exchange has provoked frustration from both Congressional Republicans and Democrats.
“Speaker Pelosi’s threat to cancel the State of the Union is very irresponsible and blatantly political,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said in a statement to The New York Times. “President Trump denying Speaker Pelosi military travel is also inappropriate.”
The inability of Trump and Pelosi to come to terms has implications that reach far beyond Capitol Hill.
Here is a look at some groups that have been most impacted. Some may surprise you.
1. Native Americans
As Democracy Now reported Thursday, the shutdown has had a particularly significant impact on Native American communities, as the Indian Health Service is critically understaffed and a federally funded program that delivers food to Native American reservations has been stopped in its tracks. The Bureau of Indian Affairs was also forced to furlough over 50 percent of its employees, The New York Times reported.
Mark Trahant, the editor of Indian Country Today and a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, told Democracy Now, “One stat that most people don’t know is that 60 percent of the Indian Health system is actually run by tribes or nonprofit organizations, not the federal government. So to have those organizations have to basically bail out the federal government is really extraordinary.”
He added, “Indian Health Service … (is) the lowest-cost health care system in the country. And taking resources out of that just makes it worse.”
2. Space agency workers
NASA employees have begun to protest the shutdown. According to the Houston Chronicle, 96 percent of all space agency workers have been impacted by the shutdown. Only 200 of the 3,055 federal employees at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston are still working — and they’re doing so in order to keep the three astronauts aboard the International Space Station alive.
3. TSA employees
TSA employees are among the 420,000 federal employees required to work because they are deemed “essential.” However, CNBC reported that many aren’t showing up to work.
David Borer, general counsel of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents TSA, told CNBC that “many are looking for paid employment because they can’t feed their families.”
In other words, TSA agents are beginning to look for other jobs as financial constraints become increasingly tight.
4. Federal law enforcement
The Washington Post reported that law enforcement officials have been affected by the shutdown as there is no longer enough funding for travel or training programs. Some undercover cases have also been hampered by lack of funds.
“Those who are charged with protecting the nation from criminals and terrorists could be facing enormous external financial stressors as they try to stay focused on their work,” the Post wrote.
Many law enforcement officials are still being required to show up to work.
5. National parks
National Geographic reported that national parks are brimming with waste due to the government shutdown, as employees haven’t been able to attend to toilets and trash cans. The Department of the Interior has decided to divert funds from park entrance fees to pay for cleanup and increased law enforcement. This has sparked concerns as the park service already has an $11 billion maintenance backlog that the entrance fees were going to be used against.
6. Families relying on food stamps
Around 40 million Americans depend on food stamps. Government officials in charge of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) decided to issue February food stamps early, because they weren’t sure if the funds would be there in several weeks. There are also concerns over whether the government will be able to issue food stamps in March, Kaiser Health News reported.
As The New York Times reported, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), which is used by around 7 million Americans, has already run out of funding, with states forced to make up the deficit.
The shutdown has also impacted Utah’s food assistance program, the Deseret News reported earlier this week.
7. Lyft and Uber drivers
Lyft and Uber drivers have also been hit hard by the shutdown, as fewer and fewer customers are demanding rides in the nation's capitol, according to radio station WTOP in Washington, D.C.
“The riders just started disappearing and the calls just stopped coming,” Luke Cho, a student at George Mason University who relies on money earned through Uber to pay for his tuition, told WTOP.
This problem has been exacerbated by federal employees taking on second jobs as Lyft and Uber drivers in order to make ends meet, Business Insider reported.
It is unclear how or when the government shutdown will come to an end. The Deseret News recently wrote an editorial suggesting a solution to bring the shutdown to a close.
If the shutdown continues, federal district courts will run out of funds by Jan. 25, The New York Times reported. This could bring civil cases to a halt, although criminal cases are expected to keep moving forward.