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Trump's shutdown takes anti-government sentiment to new extremes

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24.01.2019

The commandant of the United States Coast Guard took to Twitter to say he finds it "unacceptable" that his organization must "must rely on food pantries and donations to get through day-to-day life." The Coast Guard, charged with protecting the vast US coastline, is the only military branch under the Department of Homeland Security and is thus directly impacted by the shutdown. The Coast Guard has continued its crucial tasks until now, but has not been able to pay its more than 40,000 active duty members.

The head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is in charge of food safety inspections and the approval of new drugs, has described the partial government shutdown as the "biggest operational crisis" his agency has faced. After initially ending food checks due to the lack of funding, the agency has recently called back some employees to restart inspections of high-risk foods. The employees, whether forced to stay at home or called back in to keep the US food supply as safe as possible, are working without pay.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which oversees airport security, acknowledged last weekend that "many employees are reporting that they are not able to report to work due to financial limitations." While the TSA was officially shuttered by the shutdown, some 50,000 of its airport security employees are considered "essential" and have been called in to work without pay. But since TSA employees are among the lowest paid government workers, many simply do not have the financial means to work without wages and have begun to look for other jobs instead.

Shutdown morphing into national security risk

These three examples, and there are many more, show that the longest government shutdown in US history is now turning into a national security threat. That is not to criticize the work of the tens of thousands of government workers who continue to report for duty even without the faintest prospect of when they will be paid again.

Michael Knigge is DW's US correspondent

To the contrary, their sense of loyalty and commitment to do everything they can to keep their fellow citizens safe and the country running must be applauded. But it is obvious that operating with minimal unpaid staff........

© Deutsche Welle