Is the FDA still running? Is food still being inspected? Will food stamps run out? What about HUD? Will I get my Social Security? These are the questions that are plaguing the country as the government shutdown is now on day 26. In an attempt to allay fears, and answers questions, research has been done, information has been correlated, and we bring to you these answers, and also how much the shutdown is costing and what Congress is doing about it.
January food stamp allotments will go out as scheduled; however, February’s allotment will be put on the SNAP card on January 20. This is not a bonus. This is the February allotment. State and Federal Food Stamp agencies are urging beneficiaries of the allotments to plan accordingly. If the shutdown continues into March, there will be no allotment for March not any allotment in February. If you have a recertification up in January or February, you are to file your papers as soon as possible to prevent any interruption of benefits.
In the event the card does not work, the government money allotment can still be withdrawn from an ATM.
(Kattscratch on Twitter brought this to my attention.)
All HUD regional and field offices will be shut down along with the headquarters; however there will be a small number of staff on hand to answer emergency questions. Be prepared to get the voicemail in the event you have to call them for information. You are advised to call your local state or city housing offices for referrals to providers.
Anyone needing to apply for Notices of Funding Availability are informed that a deadline will only be extended if HUD is required to post the notice. Reviewing and awarding funds for programs will be delayed. Office of Management and Budget will make a formal announcement when government funding is restored.
Activities and funding that will continue are the following:
– Homeless assistance grants
-Grants supporting housing for veterans and people with AIDS
-“Ginnie Mae will continue to guarantee mortgage backed securities”
The Grants.gov will still operate to receive applications and will be processed as normal. Keep in mind the agency systems “may or may not” acquire the applications until the government is operating normally.
Since the shutdown began, 1,150 contracts have reached their expiration date with private landlords. Another 500 are expected to expire in January with another 550 in February if the shutdown persists. However, Jereon Brown, a Spokesman for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, has told landlords they will need to dip into their reserves, and that HUD is “…looking at all accounts for funding to reinstate those contracts that don’t exist now.” He went on to state, “Historically, HUD has reimbursed owners following a shutdown and never experienced evictions.” If the shutdown persists, the landlords may face delaying crucial repairs. They may also look in other places for funding, be forced to raise rent, or even evict tenants.
Contrary to many outlets, the USDA has not stopped major food inspections of meat, poultry, and processed egg products. In fact this is considered an essential service and has not ever shutdown. What did cease were the regularly scheduled inspections of non-high-risk facilities like cookie and cracker plants. Out of the estimated 160 domestic food inspections done by the FDA, only 31 percent are considered high risk and were not halted due to the shutdown.
The FDA is resuming inspections of of high risk foods stopped during the shutdown. These were the following:
-fresh fruits and vegetables
-prepared sandwiches and salads
Approximately 150 people have been take off of furlough to due the inspections.
Some biotech companies are being put in a rough position due to the shutdown as the FDA’s inspection and review of new pharmaceuticals has been hindered. The only drugs still being reviewed are those that were submitted via application before the shutdown and of those, most are through a user fee program.
(Lizz Reptile on Twitter brought this to my attention.)
For the veterans, 96 percent of VA personnel are reporting for duty. This means the offices will be open throughout much of the country. Survivor Benefits Plan, VA Disability, and retiree payments will still be made. This is possible because they are non-annual appropriations.
Essential services, like Medicaid, have not been halted. The Social Security recipients will still receive payments and are funded through September 2019. Along with Social Security payments, Social Security Disability will still go out as scheduled.
An estimated 57 percent or more than 46,000 employees will be recalled to duty for fielding calls and issuing refunds. Handling legal arguments for refunds are also on the table, but without Congressional funding, they will not be doing audits. Keep in mind, the IRS can take up to three years to start an audit. These means they will eventually catch you cheating, if you decide to try to do that. All are still urged to file a return as well.
Many of the employees recalled will be working without pay. So, it remains to be seen how many will call in sick or go home early.
Past administrations have said that the IRS would not function during a shutdown. Two reasons were often stated for this:
1. Annual appropriation was not approved by Congress.
2. Issuing refunds was said to be non-essential to protect either life or property, the two reasons for exceptions.
This administration and Congress has clearly refuted this.
Last Thursday, The House passed two measures. When passed into law, they will fund several affected departments and agencies through September 30 and fund the DHS through February 8. Funds to the total of $1.3B have also been passed for border security which is barred from use on a southern border wall. This puts pressure on the Senate to put the measures to a vote. Senator McConnell has noted stated whether he would put the measures up to a vote.
In the meantime, Pelosi is urging President Trump to hold off on the customary State of the Union Address until the shutdown is over.
When asked about making a deal to open the government once again, Kennedy of Louisiana was quoted as saying, “You know when that’s going to happen? When you look outside your window and see donkeys fly. You can have your opinions about President Trump, but I think most fair-minded people would have to agree he’s a smart man. And he’s not going to agree to open it back up and then have Speaker Pelosi say, ‘Thank you very much, you get nothing.’”
In approximately 9 days, if the shutdown continues, it will cost more than the wall President Trump is asking to have built. For every day the government is shut down the GDP decreases by .07 points.
All sources used are linked throughout the article.