Government Shutdown: It's the Poor Who Lose

The U.S. government has begun a partial shutdown of government programs, following a failure across the House and Senate to agree on a stop-gap budget proposal before its midnight deadline.

As Imara Jones at Colorlines points out, "the parts of the government affected by the shutdown disproportionately impact economic opportunity programs for the working poor." Here is a brief overview of the likely unsavory effects as a result of egregious congressional chicanery:

Health needs delayed: The 110 million Americans already in Medicare—the government health program for the elderly—and Medicaid—the federal and state partnership to provide health insurance to the working poor and their children—will continue to receive the services and treatment that they need. However new applications to these programs will be delayed until the government reopens.

Impaired ability to fight disease: The Centers for Disease Control will scale back the monitoring of the spread of infectious diseases and the National Institutes of Health will do the same for critical research into life-saving treatments until the lights come back on.

More people hungry: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as food stamps, will continue to provide its $33 of weekly assistance to the 48 million Americans who currently receive it. However, the Women Infants and Children Program (WIC)—which covers seven million children and infants, and their mothers—will temporarily end. The program will restart once the government reopens.

Poor kids set back: Funds for the one million children in Head Start will technically expire today, but only a smattering of locations will be forced to immediately close their doors. However, more programs will run out of money and come under pressure the longer this goes on. The same is true for Title I education grants, which provide badly needed assistance to 20 million children in the nation’s poorest school districts. Also, review of new student loan and federal grant applications will be delayed.

Housing at risk: The Federal Housing Administration, which underwrites four out of every 10 mortgages in the United States and is crucial for working families entering the housing market, will not process new home loans during an extended shutdown. Housing vouchers for the working poor and the homeless will also be at risk the longer this goes on.

More immigration delays: Border patrols and enforcement will continue during the shutdown, but new visa and citizenship applications will be stalled until the government is back to work.
Read rest here.

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