Joe Biden’s Shutdown Alert: 7 Million at Risk
On Monday, President Joe Biden and a top aide sounded the alarm about a potential federal government shutdown, emphasizing its far-reaching consequences, especially for around 7 million low-income women and children reliant on food assistance programs.
During a discussion on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, President Biden warned that failure by Congress to fund the government would have dire effects on various communities, including reduced nutrition support, limited hazardous waste site inspections, and weakened fair housing law enforcement.
He mentioned a prior agreement with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on government spending, expressing disappointment in a small faction of House Republicans unwilling to uphold the deal.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack echoed concerns, stating that a shutdown would immediately impact the “Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children” (WIC), affecting most of its 7 million participants, with nearly half of US newborns relying on the program.
He also noted potential disruptions to the “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program” (SNAP) in the months following October, affecting over 40 million Americans due to inflation-related budget constraints.
In a shutdown scenario, crucial services would be compromised, including farm loans during harvest and rural homebuyer loans. Over 50,000 Department of Agriculture workers would face furloughs without pay.
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Meanwhile, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives was set to propose substantial spending cuts, likely to be rejected by the Democratic-controlled Senate, risking a government shutdown by the following Sunday if no consensus is reached.
Additionally, House lawmakers planned to consider four spending bills for the upcoming fiscal year. These bills include provisions for stricter abortion restrictions, the rollback of an $11 billion Biden climate initiative, and the resumption of the Mexico-US border wall project—moves met with opposition from President Biden, who vowed to veto at least two of them.
Secretary Vilsack characterized the Republican fiscal plans as “punitive” and “petty,” emphasizing the contentious nature of budgetary debates.