President Donald Trump said he would reopen the federal government Friday and pay back the 800,000 federal workers who’ve gone uncompensated since the partial shutdown started in December.
But not everything will go back to normal. The shutdown will have some lasting damage.
For one thing, some federal contract employees won’t get back pay. While Congress routinely approves back pay for federal workers during shutdowns, people who work for companies that provide services ― such as thousands of janitors and security officers who work in federal buildings ― don’t receive the same consideration.
For another, millions of Americans will have to stretch their food budgets. The federal government ordered states to distribute February’s food benefit payments several weeks early because of the shutdown. More than 38 million Americans receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, and they’ll now have to wait until March for their next payment. Some beneficiaries may have already spent the February allotment, thinking it was some kind of accidental bonus.
States had to rush to get the money out and didn’t have time to focus on informing beneficiaries. Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, said she heard stories about confused SNAP recipients from several organizations in her state.
“They thought that because of the shutdown, if they didn’t spend them all now the government is going to take them back,” Hamler-Fugitt said.
Hundreds of people in subsidized housing received eviction threats because nobody in the federal government could tell their landlords the program hadn’t lapsed. One renter told a local TV station he would try to borrow money to make payments.
Some Transportation Security Administration workers may have taken new jobs. How many people want to take a position that often pays less than $40,000 per year that doesn’t actually guarantee a regular paycheck?
And it could take years to reschedule some of the immigration court hearings that were canceled because of furloughed judges.
The monthlong shutdown will also have larger-scale consequences, such as reduced consumer confidence and economic growth. The government shutdown of 2013, which lasted less than three weeks, reduced gross domestic product by at least 0.1 percent and as much as 0.6 percent, according to a range of estimates.
When President Trump announced Friday that he would give up on his quest to make congressional Democrats support a border wall that he previously said Mexico would pay for, he threatened to shut down the government yet again “if we don’t get a fair deal from Congress.”
But Trump has just proven that his “fair deal” strategy was totally ineffective ― except for disrupting thousands of people’s lives.