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The partial gov’t shutdown centres on Trump’s request for over $5bn in border wall funding, a demand Democrats oppose.
Key parts of the US government shut down on December 22 after President Donald Trump and Democratic politicians hit an impasse over the president’s request for $5bn in funding for a wall on the US-Mexico border, a demand Democrats oppose.
Trump has so far refused to back down on the request, pushing the shutdown into its 18th day and tying the record for the second-longest gap in the US.
As talks continue in Washington, DC over the partial shutdown, we break down what you need to know:
What departments are affected? What does the shutdown mean for federal workers?
The shutdown affects more than 800,000 federal workers in nine different departments, as well as several federal agencies. This includes the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, State, Transportation and Treasury.
Federal workers deemed “essential” are required to work without pay. Others are furloughed, or placed on temporary leave.
Federal employees have sued the US government over the requirement that some workers must work without pay. After past government shutdowns, Congress has approved back pay for federal workers, but the American Federation of Government Employees, which launched the recent lawsuit, called the requirement to work without pay “inhumane”.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has stopped many of its services, but officials said the agency would continue issuing tax refunds.
Immigration courts have also been affected, worsening an already existing backlog, which includes more than 800,000 cases.
According to Democratic Representative Sharice Davids, who was recently sworn in, the shutdown has had a direct impact on Native Americans’ lives.
“I spoke with one tribal leader who said that they actually lost a tribal member because they were unable to plough the roads so that an emergency service vehicle could get to him in time,” Davids recently told National Public Radio (NPR).
Davids explained that federal funds that go to tribal communities for services such as ploughing roads and healthcare have stopped due to the shutdown.
On January 2, the Smithsonian museums and National Zoo in Washington, DC, closed due to the shutdown. Some national parks have also closed or have limited services.
While the effect of the shutdown is not felt by most Americans, millions could be hit if the gap does not end by February.
Residents who are part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) may have their assistance disrupted in March.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials have said SNAP beneficiaries will continue to recieve assistance through Feburary, but they could not make any guarantees if the shutdown continued into the following month.
On December 28, USDA noted that other programmes may continue to operate on money that is currently available but will receive no new federal funding during the shutdown.