NEWS That Affects Us : A Closer Look at Events Affecting PB and Beyond

Hurelayn Abdu, Editor-in-chief

While it has been less than two months since 2018 started, the new year has already been filled with significant political news. It seems that every day brings something new related to hot-button topics such as immigration, the border wall, net neutrality, and the federal budget. With that in mind, here is some of the key information you need to know.

Towards the end of 2017, there was significant outrage when the Federal Communications Committee announced their decision to repeal net neutrality – an Obama administration policy insuring that large broadcast companies were not able to block certain websites, or charge for higher quality service or specific content.

According to CNN’s Seth Fiegerman, “First approved by the FCC in 2015, the net neutrality rules require internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon to treat all online content the same. Providers are barred from deliberately speeding up or slowing down traffic from specific websites, and from putting their own content at an advantage over rivals.”

The FCC’s announcement drew immediate calls for new legislation from state leaders and members of Congress. On January 24th, CNN reporter David Goldman wrote that “Lawmakers in both parties have expressed support for net neutrality legislation, though its prospects remain unclear.”
Perhaps the most pressing issue of late is that Democrats and Republicans have not been able to agree on a set funding bill. Like any federal budget impasse, several key areas are affecting legislation. One area that has been contentious is funding for a program to address people affected by the cancellation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals act (DACA). In September, 2017, President Trump announced plans to suspend the program, but left the door open for Congress to create a permanent plan with bipartisan support by March 5, 2018.

However, the two parties have not been able to come up with one plan that they agree on, leaving the fate of DACA recipients – Dreamers – up in the air as the president’s March 5th deadline looms. In January, Trump offered a proposal of his own. According to Time’s Nash Jenkins, “…the proposal would offer a 12-year path to citizenship for 1.8 million immigrants who arrived in the U.S.. illegally as children. That’s more than double the number protected under the Obama-era executive program…The plan also allocates $25 billion for a wall along the country’s southern border and additional security protections in the region. It would also curtail what Republicans have called ‘chain migration,’ prohibiting green cards for the siblings and parents of immigrants.”
Jenkins reports that the plan “…has been denounced by both hardline conservatives and pro-immigration activists.”

The unfortunate gridlock related to DACA and immigration is in large part what has led to the next major event in politics: the government shut down.Since Congress could not settle on a budget plan by midnight on January 19th, the government shut down. This affected many federal workers and programs including non-essential government personnel, who were placed on furlough; nine million children who are protected under the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP); many national park sites; and military personnel, who were expected to report for duty, but not be paid for the time.

Fortunately, the shutdown did not last long, ending on January 23rd when Congress passed a temporary funding bill that funded the government until February 8th. However, before that February 8th deadline hit, congress once again had to either pass legislation to fund the government until March 23rd or shut down.

Legislators avoided a second shutdown in the early morning hours of February 9th. Washington Post reporters Mike DeBonis and Erica Werner reported that “Congress moved to end a five-hour government shutdown early Friday morning after the House voted to support a massive bipartisan budget deal that stands to add hundreds of billions of dollars in federal spending on the military, domestic programs and disaster relief.”