Shutdown Squeezes Washingtonians
As negotiations begin between the White House and Congress to avoid default and re-open the federal government, the shutdown drags on. It’s claiming more victims and stalling a fragile economy that’s still in recovery mode. In Washington state, just as across the country, the absence of a 2014 federal budget has hindered home purchases, left workers without pay, cut off loans to small businesses, and crippled the tourism industry. A prolonged shutdown could have an even more devastating impact.
Many are currently being impacted by furloughs and delays in benefits:
- Unemployment benefits: Unemployment benefit payments are delayed due to staff furloughs at the Employment Security Department and an increase in demand from federal workers who have also been furloughed.
- Veteran services: Training, employment services, and assistance to help veterans connect to other benefits ended as veteran specialist staff have been furloughed.
- Federal employee furloughs: All federal employees who do not perform a job that is essential to the safety of life or property will go without pay for as long as the shutdown continues.
If the shutdown continues, the impact will become even more widespread. Some of the services currently available have funding that is time-limited:
- Food assistance for families (SNAP): Under the 2009 Recovery Act, funding for food assistance to families received a boost until November 1, 2013. Without new funding authority, all food assistance to families will be terminated at the end of October.
- Nutrition assistance for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC): Services are currently being provided with funding from the prior year as well as contingency funds. But that will only last for a little longer. If the shutdown continues into November, it is expected that WIC services will end for Washingtonians.
- Child care for working parents: Working parents with low incomes (not participating in WorkFirst) will lose assistance to help them afford child care at the end of October, jeopardizing their ability to remain at their jobs.
The effects would be catastrophic if the federal government remains shutdown for an extended period of time. The role of government in our lives cannot be understated: the safety of our food, prevention of disease, maintenance of roads and bridges, and education of our children are things we all rely on. A spending agreement is necessary to protect our health and safety and keep the economy intact.
Note: this is not an exhaustive list of all the impacts of the federal shutdown