Wednesday, February 26, 2020
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‘It’s about time,’ tweets Hogan

Maryland Gov Larry Hogan, a Republican, greeted news Friday that President Donald Trump had agreed to end the partial federal shutdown, at least for three weeks, in exchange for Democrats and Republicans hammering out some work on immigration reform.

The shutdown has kept us quite distracted for the past 30-plus days, but students across the country have been writing plenty about it.

We turn to some students from Maryland, where almost 200,000 federal employees live, pay taxes, and send their kids to school, for some of the freshest opinions about the shutdown. All the schools quoted here are in Montgomery County, in the Washington suburbs. We sincerely hope that this will be the last in our series of stories about the shutdown.

Clarksburg High School

“People including my mom are working without pay, and some of these people are not working their job at a peak performance level,” editor in chief Jordan Doss quoted a junior at the school as saying. “TSA isn’t checking luggage as efficiently, FDA isn’t checking food as efficiently, etc. It’s becoming an epidemic.”

Although Montgomery County businesses and services have stepped up to prevent people from suffering too much during the shutdown and Mr Trump has promised to provide back pay for direct federal employees, there’s little doubt that federal workers have jobs elsewhere in the back of their minds.

“This is a great opportunity for people to have a change in career and it can give them a chance to help their families. This is the time for communities to come together and support one another through it all,” The Howl quoted art teacher Emily Hoponick as saying.

A report earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal supports the claim of increased opportunity Ms Hoponick talked about. “Two-thirds of federal employees searching for jobs last week said the partial government shutdown has them considering employment in the private sector, according to a new survey from job-search site ZipRecruiter.com,” the Journal wrote. “The poll found that 87% were looking for work due to the shutdown, and 77% were seeking a full-time position, as opposed to a part-time, temporary or gig job.”

Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, Olney

In a speech today, Mr Trump said if Congress was unable to reach a deal on border security that was acceptable to him by February 15, three weeks from today, he would solve the problem himself, either by shutting the government down again or declaring a national emergency and diverting funds for a wall without the need for Congressional approval.

“So let me be very clear, we really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier. If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on February 15 again or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws in the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency. We will have great security, and I want to thank you all very much.” —President Donald Trump

“Declaring a national emergency is not as rare as people may think,” writes Brittney Ferguson in The Talon student newspaper at this private school in Montgomery County. “Congress passed the National Emergency Act in 1976; however, the definition and severity of the word ’emergency’ was never clearly defined. Bill Clinton declared 17 national emergencies in his presidency and Barack Obama declared 13.

“This does not mean President Trump can declare a national emergency unchallenged,” she continued. “There will be legal push back from the Supreme Court. This is why the Trump administration is looking into the legal implications of declaring a national emergency, as they will need to make certain that it is constitutional. Not only the Supreme Court, but a national emergency can also be opposed by Congress. However, this is less likely to happen, as there is a Republican majority, ruled by Mitch McConnell, who decides what enters the legislative floor and is an avid supporter of the border wall.”

Not to mention, declaration of a national emergency when a wall’s effectiveness is at least debatable would bring push back not just from elected officials but from the public as well.

Walt Whitman High School, Bethesda

Finally, from Zara Ali in The Black & White, we learn that a teacher at the school may finally decide to shave, now that the shutdown has ended.

“One of my friends just mentioned that he wasn’t going to shave until the shutdown was over, and I said I’m right there with you,” the paper quoted an art teacher as saying. “I’ll look like Coach Floyd if I have to.”

We wouldn’t want that, would we? The article is entitled “Furlough frenzy: Government shutdown impacts Whitman community,” and besides facial hair, the shutdown hit students and their families hard in other ways as well.

“Obviously, it’s frustrating, and we don’t know what’s going to happen or how long it’s going to take,” one parent was quoted as saying. “The last paycheck came in on January 3, and I don’t know when the next one will come in. That’s pretty scary.”

Soon, Mr Trump said. Another student said she was having difficulty calling her mom, who works at the US Department of Agriculture and whose only phone is a federally funded one that she was barred from using during the shutdown.


Gov Hogan, Maryland Special Olympics, Jan. 24 (Maryland GovPics / Flickr CC)

“I just hope they will come to some sort of agreement so, not just me, but so many people who are affected can get back to their lives,” said the art teacher with the beard.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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