Impacts of the partial government shutdown are becoming clearer, and its already bad news for some sectors of Iowa.
Seventy-five percent of the federal government currently is funded. Funding for the other 25 percent expired at midnight on Dec. 21. There is no light at the end of the negotiations tunnel. President Donald Trump is demanding a funding bill that includes a $5 billion commitment toward construction of portions of a wall along the southern border. Although members of the Republican-controlled U.S. House approved such legislation, a similar measure was not approved by members of the Republican-controlled Senate.
Since the American electorate backed a Democratic majority in the House — many elected because they opposed the expense of a border wall — there’s even less hope for Trump’s funding demand. For the record, elections matter.
Stalled alongside ongoing negotiations are several federal agencies and programs important to Iowans. The National Park Service, which oversees Effigy Mounds National Monument near Harpers Ferry, no longer is performing its duties, leaving the sacred and historic Native American site largely unprotected.
In West Branch, the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum is closed, its grounds likewise largely left unmonitored. A holiday exhibit, planned as a tourism draw during slow winter months, was cut short.
Not only has the shutdown resulted in uncertainty for some university grants, it already has cash-strapped farmers and small towns on edge. The USDA’s Offices of Rural Development are closed, employees furloughed. Since 2016, the division has awarded nearly $400 million to more than 150 rural Iowa projects aimed at increased economic opportunity and quality of life.
Farmers traditionally have relied on USDA farm services as a lender of last resort, but those offices also have been shuttered by the shutdown. Producers who have remained afloat during the winter months despite narrowed export markets will likely need financial help to successfully navigate spring planting.
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Some immigrants living in the state have once again seen scheduled court hearings postponed — likely indefinitely, given the current and massive immigration court backlog. It’s difficult to understand how this particular result squares with Trump’s reasons for being “proud” to own a shutdown.
And all Americans are once again witnessing the results of dysfunctional leadership and governance. If this stalemate ends similarly to others the country has experienced, no savings will be realized. Federal employees, many now concerned about how to pay their bills, will be given back pay for the time they were furloughed.
It’s a sad political show with real life consequences, and one that shows us and the world how little unity there is in the United States of America.
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