Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

First, a little background before the 2018–2019 partial shutdown started:

December 11, 2018:

  • The White House posted a transcript of a meeting between President Trump, House Speaker-Designate Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. They discussed the impending shutdown. The key part of the meeting was:

Senate Minority Leader Schumer: Twenty times you have called for, “I will shut down the government if I don’t get my wall.” None of us have said –

The President: You want to know something?

Senate Minority Leader Schumer: You’ve said it.

The President: Okay, you want to put that on my —

Senate Minority Leader Schumer: You said it.

The President: I’ll take it.

Senate Majority Leader Schumer: Okay, good.

The President: You know what I’ll say: Yes, if we don’t get what we want, one way or the other — whether it’s through you, through a military, through anything you want to call — I will shut down the government. Absolutely.

Senate Minority Leader Schumer: Okay. Fair enough. We disagree.

The President: And I am proud — and I’ll tell you what –

Senate Minority Leader Schumer: We disagree.

The President: I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck, because the people of this country don’t want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country. So I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it. The last time you shut it down, it didn’t work. I will take the mantle of shutting down.

December 19, 2018:

  • The New York Times posted an article titled: “Senate Passes Stopgap Spending Bill That Would Avert Shutdown”. From the article:

Moving to head off a looming government shutdown, the Senate passed a stopgap spending bill on Wednesday night that would keep the government funded through Feb. 8 — and would punt the impasse over a southern border wall to the new year an a divided Congress.

The bill, which quickly passed by voice vote after senators were corralled back to the chambers, was expected to pass the House on Thursday and be sent to President Trump before the midnight deadline, when funding would lapse for nine federal departments.

The measures poses an uncomfortable political problem for Mr. Trump among his far-right supporters, even though it remained unclear if the president, who has been a volatile factor throughout the spending debate, would sign such a measure without the $5 billion he has demanded for a border wall…

December 21, 2018:

    • Donald Trump posted a tweet that said: “The Democrats now own the shutdown!”
    • Nancy Pelosi posted a tweet that included a video that showed the part of the meeting where President Trump said: “I am proud to shut down the government.”

The US government was partially shut down at midnight on Friday after Donald Trump’s demands for border wall funding left Washington in a deadlock.

Frenetic negotiations at the Capitol, the House and Senate on Friday failed to reach a deal, sending the federal apparatus into paralysis at midnight.

In the same article, The Guardian reported that the night before, the U.S House of Representatives passed a budget bill that included $5.7 billion to begin building a wall along the United States-Mexico border.

The U.S. Senate had already passed a budget bill, and many Senators had left the Capitol. The Senate began a procedural vote on the bill on Friday, but was stuck waiting for the Senators who left to return.

  • The Hill reported that federal workers would get their next paycheck over the holidays, even if the government shuts down Saturday.

But the paycheck for that pay period, which would normally be issued between Dec. 28 and Jan. 3, will be about 7 percent smaller than normal. That’s because the last day of the pay period, Dec. 22, would be the first day of a shutdown, meaning workers will not receive payment for that day.

  • Roll Call reported that the Violence Against Women Act lapsed. Authorization for the law’s programs expired when the partial government shutdown began.

The law authorizes funding for social service agencies that aid victims affected by sexual violence, including rape crisis centers, shelters and legal-assistance programs. Reauthorizations over the years have included expanded provisions focused on reporting mechanisms for sexual violence on college campuses and extending protections for the LGBT community.

Most VAWA programs are administered by the departments of Justice and Health and Human Services. Congress cleared fiscal 2019 funding for HHS in September, which means that funding for some VAWA programs administered by HHS may continue, even as the authorizations expire.

  • NORAD & USNORTHCOM tweeted: “In the event of a government shutdown, NORAD will continue with its 63-year tradition of NORAD Tracks Santa on Dec. 24. Military personnel who conduct NORAD Tracks Santa are supported by approximately 1,500 volunteers who make the program possible each and every year.”

December 22, 2018: — Day 1 of the Partial Shutdown

    • The Associated Press tweeted: “BREAKING: Senate adjourns without action to end partial government shutdown as talks drag on between White House, Congress”
    • NBC News reported that Senate leaders announced they would meet next for a pro forma session on Monday, December 24, but that the Senate would not actually convene again in a scheduled session until Thursday, December 27, 2018.
  • In the same article, NBC News reported:

Under the current partial shutdown, more than 420,000 federal employees will be required to work without pay and an additional 380,000 will be sent home, according to a fact sheet compiled by Senate Democrats. TSA employees, correctional officers, FBI agents, U.S. Marshals, Border Patrol officers, Coast Guard employees, Forest Service firefighters and Weather Service forcasters are all expected to continue working without pay, though they may be reimbursed later.

  • BuzzFeed News reported that all 58 national parks are “effectively closed.” If the parks are not closed entirely, all park amenities (like trash collection and restroom cleaning) will be suspended for the duration of the shutdown

BuzzFeed News also reported that the United States Post Office is not affected by the shutdown because it generates its own independent sources of revenue. The federal judiciary has enough money to keep operating for about three weeks (or until January 11, 2019).

  • The USGS tweeted: “Due to the federal government shutdown, this account will not be active until further notice.” It include a link to more information.

USGS is the United States Geologic Survey. It is a scientific agency of the United States government. The USGS website says:

Due to a lapse in appropriations, the majority of USGS websites may not be up to date and may not reflect current conditions. Websites displaying real-time data such as Earthquake and Water and information needed for public health and safety will be updated with limited support. Additionally, USGS will not be able to respond to inquiries until appropriations are enacted.

  • The Department of Homeland Security and USCIS website posted that E-Verify and E-Verify Services are unavailable. The E-Verify system is run by the Department of Homeland Security to help businesses determine whether employees are eligible to work in the United States.

E-Verify and E-Verify services are currently unavailable due to a lapse in governmental appropriations.

Employers will not be able to access their E-Verify accounts to: enroll in E-Verify; create an E-Verify case; view or take action on any case; add, delete or edit any user account; reset passwords; edit company information; terminate accounts; and run reports.

In addition, myE-Verify accounts are inaccessible including: Self Check, Self Lock, Case History, and Case Tracker. Several E-Verify related webinars have been canceled.

  • Arches National Park tweeted: “During the federal government shutdown, we will not monitor or update social media. Some areas at Arches are accessible; however access may change without notice, and there are limited NPS-provided services.”
  • Pinnacles National Park tweeted: “During the federal government shutdown, we will not monitor or update social media. Some Pinnacles areas are accessible; however access may change without notice, and there are no NPS-provided services.”

Despite a partial shutdown of the federal government that began on Dec. 22, 2018, the Judiciary remains open and can continue operations for approximately three weeks, through January 11, 2019, by using court fee balances and other funds not dependent on a new appropriation…

…If the shutdown were to continue past three weeks and exhaust the federal Judiciary’s resources, the courts would then operate under the Anti-Deficiency Act, which allows work to continue during a lapse in appropriations if it is necessary to support the exercise of Article III judicial powers. Under this scenario, each court and federal defender’s office would determine the staffing resources necessary to support such work.

  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo posted information on his website titled: “Governor Cuomo Announces New York Will Intervene to Keep Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Open in Face of Federal Government Shutdown”. From the information:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the State will intervene in order to keep the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island open in the face of a federal government shutdown. Throughout the duration of the shutdown, the State will fully fund National Park Service personnel and costs of operations at the cost of $65,000 per day as it has during previous shutdowns in 2013 and this past January in order to keep the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island open to visitors. As a result, the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island will be open tomorrow, and remain open every day except December 25, weather permitting…

  • NBC Washington 4 posted an article titled: “What’s Open, What’s Closed During the Government Shutdown”. The article listed the Old Post Office Tower was closed to visitors during the shutdown.

Washington’s historic Old Post Office is the location of the Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C.

Funding for a portion of the federal government expired on December 21, 2018. The Department is prepared for a lapse in funding that would necessitate a significant reduction in operations and is currently implementing its plan.

The Department of Commerce will maintain the following services and activities during a lapse in appropriations:

    • Weather, water, and climate observing, prediction, forecast, warning and support
    • Law enforcement activities for the protection of marine fisheries
    • Fisheries management activities including quota monitoring, observer activities and regulatory actions to prevent overfishing
    • Water level data for ships entering U.S. ports, critical nautical chart updates and accurate position information
    • Patent and trademark application processing
    • Operation of the national timing and synchronization infrastructure as well as the National Vulnerability Database
    • Maintenance, continuity and protection of certain research property and critical data records
    • All services of the National Technical Information Service (NTIS)
    • Export enforcement — the ongoing conduct of criminal investigations, and prosecutions, and coordination with other law enforcement and intelligence agencies in furtherance of our national security
    • Support for excepted activities under a shutdown
    • Assignment of radio frequencies to federal agencies for critical national security and public safety purposes
  • All the functions of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet).

The following services and activities will not be available during the shutdown:

    • Most research activities at NIST and NOAA (excluding real-time regular models on research computers used for hurricane and FAA flight planning)
    • Assistance and support to recipients of grant funding
    • Technical oversight of non-mission essential contracts
    • Services activities provided by: Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), Economic Development Administration (EDA), Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA), Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), U.S. Census Bureau with the exception of the support of Decennial Census, which remains funded and activities funded by other agencies and non-Federal entities through reimbursable agreements.
  • Most services and activities provided by the International Trade Administration (ITA)

December 23, 2018: Day 2 of the Partial Shutdown

  • WTOP posted an article titled: “Still dark on the Ellipse as National Christmas Tree remains dimmed”. From the article:

The lights on the National Christmas Tree flickered on and off Sunday as the National Park Service assessed damage to the tree.

The hope is that the lights will be on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles, a spokeswoman for the National Park Service, said NPS is working on a partnership with the National Park Foundation that would allow for NPS to get the lights repaired.

The National Park Foundation is providing materials and labor for the restoration, Anzelmo-Sarles said…

…The holiday performance scheduled for Saturday in President’s Park was canceled because of the lighting issue, NPS said…

December 24, 2018: Day 3 of the Partial Shutdown

  • HuffPost posted an article titled: “National Christmas Tree Dark Due to Government Shutdown”. From the article:

The National Christmas Tree may stay dark during the partial government shutdown, according to reports Sunday.

“During the federal government shutdown, the White House Visitor Center and National Christmas Tree site will be closed”, the National Park Services wrote on its website. “Restroom facilities will be closed.”

The tree, a massive Colorado blue spruce, was damaged Friday when a man in “emotional distress” tried to climb it, a park service spokesman told The Hill. The shutdown has “complicated” repairs that would allow for the lights to be turned back on…

  • NBC News posted an article titled: “National Christmas Tree reopens with donors’ help amid government shutdown”. From the article:

The National Christmas Tree near the White House reopened on Monday despite the funding lapse caused by the government shutdown after a foundation stepped in with the needed support, the National Park Foundation said.

The Christmas tree at President’s Park, south of the White House South Lawn, was closed when the government partially shut down after Congress failed to reach a stopgap funding bill…

  • The National Park Foundation posted a press release titled: “National Park Foundation Helps Reopen National Christmas Tree Site at President’s Park.” From the press release:

“The National Park Foundation and hundreds of local philanthropic organizations and other park partners are always working to help ensure all people have access to our treasured national parks,” said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation. “The National Park Foundation’s support to President’s Park is one example of how private philanthropy can help support national parks when they need it most.”

The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks and non profit partner to the National Park Service. It was chartered by Congress in 1967.

  • President Donald Trump tweeted: “I am all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security. At some point the Democrats not wanting to make a deal will cost our Country more money than the Border Wall we are talking about. Crazy!”

December 25, 2018: Day 4 of the Partial Shutdown

  • ABC News posted an article titled: “Melania Trump returns to Washington as Trumps attend Christmas Eve Service”. From the article:

The first family joined back up in Washington on Monday night as the Trumps attended Christmas Eve mass at the National Cathedral.

The couple arrived to the service, officially titled, “The Eve of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ Festival Holy Eucharist,” at about 11 p.m. The packed service was streamed live on the National Cathedral’s website as well.

President Donald Trump had remained in the nation’s capitol as he dealt with the partial government shutdown roiling the country and his administration, but first lady Melania Trump had flown with son Barron to Mar-a-Lago in Florida for the Christmas holiday…

…Trump had ben planing a two-week vacation to the “winter White House” for the holidays before the government shutdown went into effect at midnight on Saturday. Republicans and Democrats in Congress had agreed to deal to fund the government, but Trump reversed course and refused to sign it without the $5 billion he requested in order to build his much-touted border wall between the U.S. and Mexico…

December 26, 2018: Day 5 of the Partial Shutdown

  • The International Trade Administration tweeted: “NOTICE: Due to a lapse in appropriations, this account will not be updated until a new appropriations act is enacted.”

The tweet linked to an article on the U.S. Department of Commerce website that was posted on December 22, 2018.

  • The Department of Homeland Security posted a notice on its website:

NOTICE: Due to the lapse in federal funding, this website will not be actively managed. This website was last updated on December 21, 2018 and will not be updated until after funding is enacted. As such, information on this website may not be up to date. Transactions submitted via this website might not be processed and we will not be able to respond to inquires until after appropriations are enacted.

  • The National Science Foundation tweeted: “Due to a lapse in appropriations, NSF will not be posting or responding to any comments. We will return as soon as possible.”

The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity and welfare; to secure national defense…” They are the only federal agency whose mission includes support for all fields of fundamental science and engineering, except for medical sciences.

  • The National Endowment for the Humanities tweeted: “Due to the unavailability of appropriated funds to continue the operations of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the agency has been shut down. Consequently, this Twitter account is not being maintained and the information it displays may not be up to date.”

The National Endowment for the Humanities posted a Shutdown Notice on its website:

Due to the unavailability of appropriated funds to continue the operations of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the agency has been shut down. Consequently, this website is not being maintained and the information it displays may not be up to date. The Endowment will not be able to update information, process any transactions submitted to this website, or respond to any inquiries until funding for NEH is restored and the agency resumes its operations.

The National Endowment for the Humanities provides grants to cultural institutions, such as museums, archives, libraries, colleges, universities, public television, radio stations, and to individual scholars.

  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tweeted: Parts of the U.S. Government are closed & this account will not be updated. @ NOAA websites & social media necessary to protect lives & property WILL be maintained: for critical weather info, see”

NOAA provides daily weather forecasts, severe storm warnings, and climate monitoring to fisheries management, coastal restoration and supporting marine commerce.

  • National Archives Office of the Federal Register tweeted: “We’re sorry, but we will not be posting updates to our social media channels during the government shutdown. We’ll be back as soon as possible!”

December 27, 2018: Day 6 of the Partial Shutdown

  • NPR posted an article titled: “Smithsonian and National Zoo to Close After New Year’s Day In Government Shutdown”. The article says that Smithsonian officials announced that all of its museums, as well as the National Zoo, will be shuttered on January 2, 2019, unless a deal is reached.

Approximately two-thirds of Smithsonian staff are federal employees, which means, come Wednesday, they’ll have to join the roughly 380,000 furloughed workers who were forced to stop doing their jobs as of Saturday — the day federal funding lapsed.

The Smithsonian will remain open to the public through New Year’s Day using prior year funds.

  • The U.S. Office of Personnel Management tweeted: “Feds, here are sample letters you may use as a guide when working with your creditors during this furlough. If you need legal advice, please consult with your personal attorney.”

The tweet included a link to where furloughed workers could look at the sample letters. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) serves as the chief human resources agency and personnel manager for the Federal Government.

December 28, 2018: Day 7 of the Partial Shutdown

The USDA in a statement issued last week assured farmers that checks would continue to go out during the first week of the shutdown. But direct payments for farmers who haven’t certified production, as well as farm loans and disaster assistance programs, will be put on hold beginning next week, and won’t start up again until the government reopens.

In the same article, the Associated Press reported:

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, helps feed roughly 40 million Americans, according to the USDA, eligible recipients are guaranteed benefits through January. Other feeding programs, including WIC, which provides food aid and counseling for pregnant women, new mothers and children, and food distribution on Indian reservations, will continue on a local level, but additional federal funding won’t be provided. School lunch programs will continue through February.

    • The United States Environmental Protection Agency tweeted: “Due to a lapse in appropriations, EPA websites and social media will not be regularly updated. In the event of an environmental emergency threatening the safety of human life or to protect certain property, will be updated with appropriate information.”
  • Military Times posted an article titled: “Coast Guard won’t see paychecks for several more weeks as shutdown continues”.

Coast Guard officials confirmed this week they need emergency legislation by the end of today in order to process paychecks on time for their regular release on Jan. 1. Currently, about 42,000 service members are working without pay because of the government shutdown.

Members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines are unaffected by the budget stalemate because funding for their departments was finalized last fall. The same goes for veterans benefits, since the Department of Veterans Affairs saw its full fiscal 2018 budget approved in September.

But the Coast Guard’s money, which is handled through the Department of Homeland Security, falls under one of numerous government agencies forced into shutdown last week over a political dispute concerning President Trump’s proposed southern border wall.

  • Coast Guard All Hands (the official blog for the Coast Guard Workforce) posted: “UPDATE: Government Shutdown FAQs, CGMA loan information”.

Will Coast Guard members get paid on Dec. 31? Yes, the Administration, the Department of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard have identified a way to pay our military workforce on Dec. 31, 2018. This one-time action applies to military members that served on active duty in the month of December and those reserve military members that drilled prior to the lapse in appropriation.

The information also states that the approval only covers the December 31, 2018 paycheck. It does not guarantee a paycheck on January 15, 2019. Retirees will get paid on December 31, 2018, but if the shutdown continues into February, they may not get paid their future installments.

  • Zion National Park posted information about “Operations During Shutdown”. It will remain partially open during the shutdown because of funding that is not connected to the federal government.

Zion Canyon Visitor Center will be open 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily through January 5 thanks to donations from the State of Utah and Zion Forever Project.

The restrooms near the Zion Canyon Visitor Center and in the Campground will be open through January 5, thanks to donations from the State of Utah and Zion Forever Project.

The restrooms at the Zion Lodge shuttle stop will be open through January 31, thanks to a donation from Zanterra…

…One loop of Watchman Campground will remain open through January 5, thanks to donations from the State of Utah and Zion Forever Project…

  • Roll Call posted an article titled: “White House to Freeze Pay for Federal Workers in 2019”. From the article:

As the partial shutdown grinds on, President Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday evening that would freeze pay for federal workers in 2019.

Trump telegraphed the move in his February budget request for fiscal 2019 when he proposed a pay freeze for the roughly 2.1 million federal civilian workers. The plan was confirmed by a formal announcement in August required to head off steep pay raises that would automatically take effect under a 1990 law, which presidents of both parties routinely override…

…The decision to freeze pay in 2019 would also affect the 1.3 million or so federal civilian employees at agencies that already have full-year appropriations signed into law. That’s because provisions to block the president’s pay order are in a different spending bill that hasn’t yet become law.

Those workers, plus those who are currently either furloughed or working without pay, would receive pay raises of 1.9 percent starting Jan. 1 under the Senate’s fiscal 2019 Financial Services spending bill. House Republicans said before the midterm elections that they would go along with the pay increase, but that bill was left hanging along with six other unfinished fiscal 2019 appropriations measures…

  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) posted a status on its official website titled: “Status of FTC Online Services During 2018 Lapse in Funding”. From the status:

December 28, 2018: The FTC is closed as of midnight Friday, December 28, 2018, due to the lapse in government funding. Website information and social media properties will not be updated until the government reopens. All FTC events are postponed until further notice.

This blog was originally posted on Medium on January 4, 2018, and was updated periodically through the first week of the shutdown.

You may want to read what happened next in my blog post titled: A Timeline of the 2018–2019 Partial Government Shutdown — Week Two.

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