The federal government is en route to reopen three days after its initial shutdown. The recommencement of government is taking place after the Senate Democrats conceded their demands for a vote on legislation to protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, or DACA, recipients, compromising on their previous stipulations.
The Senate passed a short-term spending bill Monday that will fund the government through Feb. 8. The bill advanced and passed through the House, and the government is now set to reopen after the spending bill is signed into law by President Donald Trump.
The funding bill that allowed for the government to reopen also allowed for the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. CHIP is now reauthorized for the next six years, ensuring low-cost health coverage for children in families that do not qualify for Medicaid. But protection for DACA recipients — the main issue of contention during the government shutdown — remains uncertain.
What is a government shutdown?
A government shutdown takes place when Congress fails to pass a new government funding law, allowing the previous funding law to expire without renewal. In a shutdown, services the government considers “nonessential” are put on hold, and the thousands of government employees who are responsible for these nonessential services are furloughed.
During this government shutdown, thousands of employees were furloughed, including large shares of employees from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Education. Some government agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, had sufficient resources to continue to operate at full capacity despite the shutdown. These furloughs have ended now that the government is reopening.
What led to this government shutdown?
The conflict that originally led to this year’s government shutdown began in September 2017, when the Trump administration announced its intent to rescind the DACA program and gave congress six months to pass legislation that would protect DACA recipients. No new applications have been accepted to the DACA program since Sept. 5.
The government shutdown was an effort by Democrats to force a vote on legislation to protect DACA recipients. DACA currently protects 690,000 people. But this number will rapidly dwindle if Congress fails to act to protect DACA before March 5, the current deadline given by the Trump administration.
According to data released by the Department of Homeland Security, more than 900 undocumented individuals may lose their protected status every day after March 5 if lawmakers don’t meet the deadline.
The push by Democrats for Congress to address the threatened DACA program was largely unsuccessful. The final agreement between Democrats and Republicans that resulted in the reopening of the government did not include any protections for DACA, but only a promise to hold a vote regarding the status of DACA recipients by February.