Daily Video

January 27, 2019

Student breakdown on the government shutdown


Directions: Read the summary, take a look at the article, “Q&A: How soon will the federal government get back in order?” watch the video and then answer the discussion questions. Your students may find it helpful to follow along using the transcript

Summary: On Friday, President Trump announced a deal to reopen the government for three weeks. The funding plan does not include immediate money for a border wall. It will allow Democrats and Republicans to negotiate a longer-term solution to immigration and the border without the shadow of the shutdown hanging over them. Furloughed government workers will get their first paycheck this week since the shutdown began, including back pay.

The 35-day shutdown, the longest in American history, was the result of President Donald Trump’s demand that Congress pass a taxpayer-funded border wall with Mexico. If the standoff had continued into February, millions who rely on food stamps or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) may have been affected.

Discussion questions: 

  1. Essential question: What happened during the federal government shutdown that resulted in President Trump backing down from his demand for a border wall?
  2. Why did the federal government partially shut down?
  3. Do you think President Trump should declare a national emergency if he does not get funding for a Mexico-U.S. border wall? Explain your answer.
  4. What government offices closed due to the shutdown? What does the term furlough mean?
  5. What role does the federal government play in your life?
  6. Media literacy question: How did different news outlets cover the shutdown?
  7. When he was running for president, Donald Trump promised to build a border wall paid for by Mexico. Trump is now proposing a $5 billion (much less than he cited previously) wall paid for by American taxpayers. Do you think taxpayers should pay for a border wall with Mexico? Why or why not?
  8. What is the connection between the government shutdown and the delay in the State of the Union address? If you’re not sure, read this short article via the Associated Press: Trump decides to delay State of the Union after showdown with Pelosi
  9. Media literacy question: What do you see in the two photos below? Why did the protesters use Styrofoam plates? Why were protesters at the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington D.C.? Who do you not see in the pictures? What might that tell you about the situation?

Hundreds of federal workers and union leaders protested the ongoing government shutdown on Thurs., Jan. 24, in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill. Photos by Lisa Desjardins

Extension activities:

  1. If time permits, choose one of the following NewsHour articles to help you further understand the effects of the government shutdown. Pick the article that works best for your students!
    1. On day 34 of shutdown, signs of progress toward resolution (video summary at Day 34 of shutdown)
    2. All the offers (and counteroffers) in the shutdown fight
    3. Trump’s unintended shutdown gift to Pelosi: a unified Democratic caucus
    4. Your questions about the shutdown, answered
    5. 5 reasons why this shutdown is worse for federal workers
    6. How Americans are stepping up during the shutdown
    7. The many ways the shutdown is stopping vital services and research
    8. National parks suffer vandalism, overflowing toilets during government shutdown
  2. Watch NewsHour’s “Air safety measures are ‘unraveling’ due to shutdown, says air traffic union.” Unions representing air traffic controllers, pilots and flight attendants are warning that the government shutdown compromises the safety of air travel. on Thursday, they gathered at Reagan National Airport with Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., to express their concerns. Judy Woodruff speaks with Trish Gilbert, vice president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, about “unraveling” safety.
    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXHB-HPVIEg 
  3. WATCH: Commerce chief Wilbur Ross asks why furloughed workers are using food banks Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, one of the richest people in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, questioned Thursday why furloughed federal workers were using food banks instead of taking out loans to get through the month long partial government shutdown.

Extra, extra read all about!

You may have heard the term “Student Voice” in school or over social media. What does “Student Voice” mean to you? If you think you have a good idea for an opinion piece, consider sending a pitch to NewsHour Extra’s Student Voice blog. The blog is full of powerful, original pieces by students. Write Victoria Pasquantonio at vpasquantonio@newshour.org. We’d love to hear from you!


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