The Government Shutdown Has (Temporarily) Ended. What Does That Mean for Both Sides?

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On its 35th day, the longest government shutdown in the United States history ended on Friday afternoon as President Donald Trump gave a Rose Garden address to announce that he would sign a short-term spending bill that would re-open the government for three weeks. Trump's agreement to re-open the government comes without any guaranteed funding for a border wall, representing a capitulation to Democrats' demands.

The end of the shutdown will provide some relief to the 800,000 government employees who have gone over a month without pay. In the past 35 days, many federal workers across the country had been forced to go to homeless shelters to get meals for themselves and their families. According to Sentier Research, census data indicates workers will be owed over $6 billion in backpay. The owed compensation, however, might not sufficiently cover all losses incurred during the month without pay: A study out of University of Michigan found that many federal employees live paycheck to paycheck and had no choice but to delay mortgage payments and credit-card bills during the shutdown, racking up interest that could affect their livelihood for years to come. And though federal employees are all but guaranteed backpay, federal contractors worry that they will never be compensated for their weeks on furlough.

The lack of pay for federal workers, and subsequent staffing issues in various departments, has also left lingering problems. National parks are overflowing with trash. The country's airspace, air-traffic controllers warned Friday morning before Trump's announcement, had become unsafe due to lack of adequate staffing, and personnel shortages in airports have caused delays.

Polling might in part explain Trump's decision to back down on his demands for wall funding: Real Clear Politics finds that Trump's approval ratings took a beating during the length of the shutdown: On December 21st, the first day of the shutdown, 42.5 percent of Americans approved of the president's performance, and 51.8 percent disapproved. Today, 41 percent of Americans approve, and 55.6 percent disapprove.

A Washington Post-ABC poll released on Friday found that most Americans blame Trump and congressional Republicans for the shutdown. According to the poll, 53 percent of Americans blame Trump and the Republicans compared to the 34 percent who blame Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats. That does not mean Democrats have escaped the shutdown unscathed. The same Post-ABC poll found that 54 percent of American disapproved of how Pelosi handled the shutdown.

Now, Democrats and Republicans will attempt to reach an agreement on border security in the three-week window in which the government will remain funded. Without a deal, it's possible that Congress and Trump will again face an impasse over funding, and the government could enter another shutdown just 21 days after the nation's longest ever one ended.

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