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US Government Shuts Down (ARTICLE UPDATED)

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US Capitol (East Side). Image: Martin Falbisoner
US Capitol (East Side). Image: Martin Falbisoner

A note about our bias: Teaching Kids News tends to be biased to the “left.” In this case, when choosing between The Republican and Democrat positions, they side more with The Democrats’ point of view. 

The federal government of the United States was shut down Friday at midnight.

The shutdown means that most of the services provided by the federal government won’t be available.

It happened because the government failed to get enough votes to pass its 2018 federal budget. (The budget is an important document that details how the government will spend money. Without a budget, the government cannot fully operate.)

Both of the major parties in the United States are blaming each other. The Democrats are blaming Trump and his Republican Party and vice-versa.

The reasons for the shutdown are complicated, and they have to do with the fact that government bills are usually about more than one thing. Voters have to agree to the whole bill when they vote for it. One of the reasons the Democrats didn’t vote to pass the budget had to do with the “DACA” part of the bill.

DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that provides protection for the more than 700,000 children in the United States who were brought to the country illegally by their parents or caregivers. Those children (nicknamed “dreamers”) were too young to have knowingly broken the US’s laws about immigration. The DACA program prevents the dreamers from being sent back to their country of birth.

The DACA program ends in March; the Democrats and the Republicans could not agree on the details for a program to take its place. They also couldn’t agree on details about another part of the bill having to do with health insurance for children. And because those were part of the overall budget, it didn’t pass and the government had to be shut down.

The shutdown took hundreds of thousands of federal government workers off the job. That includes workers in departments such as education, housing and the environment. (Without a budget, for instance, those workers wouldn’t get paid if they worked.) Some government departments that are “essential,” including health, defence and transportation, were only partially closed. (Those employees will work with the understanding that they will eventually get paid once the government starts up again).

The last time the US government was shut down was in 2013, when Barack Obama was president. At that time, Donald Trump blamed Obama for the shutdown and told a reporter that it is the president’s responsibility to make sure the deal gets done and the budget gets passed.

The Democrats and the Republicans are trying to come up with a deal they can both agree on, so the shutdown is over as quickly as possible.

UPDATE, Mon. Jan. 22, 6 p.m.: Monday afternoon, the House and the Senate agreed to a deal to end the US government shutdown. The deal will provide “short-term funding” which will keep the government open until Feb. 8, when other deals will likely be made. For instance, in the deal, the Republicans have agreed to discuss the future of the Dreamers, according to Reuters in this article. The deal was voted on by Republicans and Democrats and passed 81 to 18 (16 Democrats and two Republicans voted against the deal).

Related links
A story by Teen Vogue about the shutdown.
A story by the BBC about the US federal government shutdown.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
If you live in The United States, what are your feelings about the Government shutdown? What are you hoping will happen? If you live outside The United States, how might you feel if your nation’s government shut down?

Reading Prompt: Point of View
What websites do you visit for your news? What are their biases? How do you know? How does that affect the way you understand what you read?

Junior
identify the point of view presented in texts, ask questions to identify missing or possible alternative points of view, and suggest some possible alternative perspectives 
(OME, Reading: 1.9).

Intermediate
Identify the point of view presented in texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts; give evidence of any biases they may contain; and suggest other possible perspectives 
(OME, Reading: 1.9).

Language Feature: Nouns vs. Verbs

When it’s two words, shut down (specifically, shut) is a verb, e.g. “We heard the government was shut down.”

When it’s one word, shutdown is a noun, e.g. “We heard about the government shutdown.”

Are the following words nouns or verbs? Write their definitions.

make up _________________________________________

makeup _________________________________________

give away _________________________________________

giveaway _________________________________________

tune up _________________________________________

tuneup _________________________________________

take off _________________________________________

takeoff _________________________________________

run away _________________________________________

runaway _________________________________________