In the USA at 06.00 am (at 00.00 Washington time), was triggered the “shutdown” (blockade), the closure of federal administrative offices.
Congress approval of the financial law is an essential tool to maintain a form of control over the presidency figure.
The consequence, in caso of not approval, is the immediate ‘ blocking ‘ of all non-essential governmental activities.
The White House already discharged on the Democrats the responsibility for the consequences of this choice. Spokesman Sarah Sanders in a statement said: “Do not negotiate the status of illegal citizens while (the Democrats) hold our citizens hostage of unconscious requests.” And Trump launched his twit against the Democrats: “The Dem want the shutdown to belittle the great success of the tax cuts and what they involve for our growing economy.”
The truth is different: the budget law, in the United States of America, must be approved by a qualified majority. This means that at least 60 votes are needed on 100. But the Republicans have “only” 52 seats. Since the measure was rejected with 50 to 49 votes, this means that to vote against the president were also some Republican senators (four).
The consequence is that starting from today America wake up with 800 thousand federal employees “blocked”. The Pentagon has sent a statement to its employees that active-duty military personnel will remain in place (including those in the Middle East). And they won’t be remunerated until Congress approves a new law.
Same thing for the Justice Department (from which federal courts depend, including the Supreme Court), which has prepared an emergency plan that provides that 95,000 of the more than 110,000 employees continue to work (but without salaries). Same thing for health: half of the more than 82,000 employees could be suspended from work.
Problems could also occur for payment of pensions, air and rail traffic, management of national parks and monuments (Statue of Liberty included) and on the stock exchange. Essential operations for national security delegated to NASA will not be suspended(including those concerning the International Space Station). But many of the thousand employees have been asked to stay at home and won’t be paid. At EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, many controls would be stopped (air and water quality or ensures compliance with the standards on hydrocarbon pollution). The closure could also cause problems for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which these days has to cope with numerous natural disasters including the hurricane that left Puerto Rico and the wildfires in California.
Something similar occurred in 2013. Then the failure to approve the federal budget presented by then-President Obama by the opposition party, the Republicans, caused the “blockade” of federal services for 16 days.
Now situation is more problematic delicate. To be “blocked” are important political choices for the country (and not only) and more because the Congress choise seems to be a declaration of war to the president. The official program of the White House foresaw for January 20 to celebrate the first year of Trump as president with a big gala dinner. After what happened this night, otherwise, many think Donald Trump has little to celebrate.
Also published on Medium.