Between the White House’s and the Justice Department’s attempts to undermine the Mueller report and the president’s response to the coronavirus, a committee tasked with ensuring the efficacy of the federal government should be working nonstop. And yet, to date, Johnson hasn’t issued a single subpoena on any matter that has unfolded during Donald Trump’s presidency.
The Trump administration has expanded the definition of “essential” to just about any government service that would cause the public great discomfort (and therefore affect Trump’s poll numbers)—like tax refunds or air passenger transport.
Exceptions are also made when the administration’s favorite industries face hardship as a result of the shutdown. For example, federal employees who work to support the onshore and offshore oil and gas drilling industry, forest management (timber sales) and the mortgage industry have also been deemed “essential” after their lobbyists complained about how the shutdown was harming their business.