The United States federal government is currently operating on a continuing resolution authority or CRA. A CRA is approved by Congress and the President as a stop-gap measure when a current fiscal year budget has not been approved.
The federal fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30. When fiscal year 2018 ended on midnight of September 30, 2018, the budget for fiscal year 2019 was not approved yet.
So rather than allow the government to shut down, Congress and President Donald Trump approved a CRA, allowing all federal agencies to operate under their fiscal year 2018 budget guidelines. That CRA is set to expire at midnight on Friday, December 21.
President Trump at first told Democratic leadership—in front of news cameras—he would be “proud” to shut down the US government if they did not give him over $5 billion for his wall. But after public outcry and requests from the GOP to not hold the federal government hostage for his pet project—the ill advised and poorly supported border wall—Trump changed his mind and agreed to sign the new CRA approved by Congress to keep the government running until February 2019.
But his agreement was short lived.
Trump now says the government will shut down at midnight—meaning federal workers will receive no pay and all non-essential personnel will remain at home—unless he gets the money he wants for his wall. The President justified his stance by citing border safety and security and the threat of “believe it or not, coyotes.”
But someone more familiar with the needs along the United States’ borders finds shutting down the government to increase border security ironic. A member of the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) spoke to Yahoo News about the imminent shutdown.
The CBP agent stated:
“Long story short, shutting down the government means fewer border patrol agents in the field. Fewer agents in the field means less border security. I am sure you see the irony here.”
Each government agency has their own defined essential and non-essential personnel outlined as part of their contingency plans. For CBP, which is the law enforcement arm of the Department of Homeland Security that specifically patrols borders and ports of entry, a shutdown means essential personnel such as border agents work without pay.
Non-essential CBP employees—who according to the agent are “the people who do payroll, intel analysts, human resources, executive assistants, vehicle maintenance, etc.”—are furloughed. It is illegal for federal workers to donate time, so these workers must stay out of the office and do no work during a shutdown.
The CBP agent added:
“The agency can’t effectively operate without those people in place, so during a shutdown, uniformed agents are moved into some of those positions. Which can have a huge effect on operations.”
Much like his border wall, most people with a working knowledge of the government and effective border enforcement do not think Trump’s ultimatum is a good idea.