Student breakdown on government’s shutdown

Monday, January 7, 2019


Directions: Read the summary, watch the video and then answer the discussion questions. Your students may find it helpful to follow along using the transcript

Summary: Thousands of furloughed government workers will not get their paychecks on Friday, a consequence of the partial government shutdown that has moved into its third week without signs of compromise. The shutdown pertains to President Donald Trump’s push for Congress to vote for a taxpayer-funded border wall with Mexico. If the standoff continues into February, millions who rely on food stamps or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) or expect to receive tax refunds may also be affected. In Washington D.C. on Sunday morning, Trump told reporters he believes the 800,000 federal workers and contractors going without pay will be able to manage. Washington Post reporter Damian Paletta joins NewsHour Weekend’s Hari Sreenivasan for a brief breakdown on the shutdown.



Discussion questions: 

1) Essential question:  What role does the federal government play in your life?

2) Why has the federal government partially shutdown?

3) What government offices have been closed due to the shutdown? What does the term furlough mean?

4) Who do you think should take responsibility for the government shutting down? Explain your response.

5a) Media literacy question: One of Trump’s biggest campaign issues included building 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. Why might the issue of the border wall highlight particularly differences in news outlets’ coverage of the shutdown?

5b) Do you think taxpayers should pay for a border wall with Mexico? Why or why not?

Extension activity: Watch syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks analyze the week in politics, including the continued government shutdown, why the new Congress is more “representative” of the American people and how the parties might evolve. News literacy question: How do Shields and Brooks conduct themselves when they disagree with one another?



Read these additional NewsHour articles to help you further understand how the current government shutdown is different from past shutdown:

5 reasons why this shutdown is worse for federal workers

The many ways the shutdown is stopping vital services and research

National parks suffer vandalism, overflowing toilets during government shutdown

Each side accusing other of giving no ground on shutdown

Visit PBS NewsHour Extra for more education resources designed to help teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories. You can read the original story here@NewsHourExtra