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Government Shutdown Over, But Entomological Impact May Linger

Washington, DC

The 2019 U.S. federal government shutdown carried significant negative effects on entomology and scientific progress at large. (Photo credit: Pixabay.com)

Lasting 35 days, the partial shutdown of U.S. federal government operations at the beginning of 2019 caused severe interruptions to insect science in the United States. The harm extended from federal government entomologists directly impacted to the American public at large who are served in myriad ways by the sustained advancement of entomology.

ESA is pleased that leaders in Washington, DC, reached an agreement Friday to re-open the government and return to normal operations, and the Society urges the President and Congress to negotiate policy matters in the future without bringing vital government work to a standstill. As noted in ESA’s statement on the eve of the shutdown, “An efficient and fully operational government means science can continue to progress and can continue to benefit the American people.”

However, for much of the entomological work affected by the shutdown, those 35 days will be difficult, if impossible, to make up. On Friday, ESA advocacy partner Lewis-Burke Associates issued a new report with analysis of the potential lasting impacts of the shutdown, noting “While it is uncertain at this time how the negotiations will proceed, given the shutdown’s unprecedented length, there is a great deal of uncertainty as to how federal agencies will recover from this significant disruption and the residual effects on U.S. research and higher education.”

Meanwhile, entomologists and other scientists shared their views on these impacts both via a hashtag, #ShutdownBugsMe, on Twitter and in media reports throughout the course of the shutdown. Below are some highlights from these stories; ESA hopes they may serve as a reminder about the peril behind the prospect of any future government shutdown.

Update, January 30, 2019: Nature article from January 29 added. 

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