With the federal government shutdown entering its second week and the debt ceiling deadline only a week away, Congress has yet to break its impasse. Three meetings that took place this week, however, have led to some hope for a breakthrough, although none of these meetings have resulted in a firm commitment towards an agreement. The meetings took place on October 9, between House minority and majority leadership; on October 10, between President Obama and House Republicans and on October 11, between President Obama and Senate Republicans.
In the October 10 meeting between President Obama and House Republicans, Republican leaders offered to raise the debt ceiling through November 22, but initially did not include in the offer a stopgap funding measure to end the government shutdown. As a result of this omission, acceptance of the offer by the Administration seemed unlikely. On October 11, however, it was reported that GOP leaders had updated the offer to include a stopgap funding measure to end the government shutdown, and were awaiting a response from President Obama. Few other details were available.
In the Senate, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is working with a bipartisan group of Senators on a proposal that would reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling. Sen. Collins’s proposal would keep sequestration level funding in place through at least March, and would either eliminate or delay the 2.3 percent medical device tax in the Affordable Care Act. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), meanwhile, plans to move a measure that would suspend the debt ceiling until December 31, 2014.
As these efforts to reopen the federal government and to raise the debt ceiling continue, counties remain open for business, providing critical programs and services, including public health and public safety, to people across the country. That said, because of the unique partnership between federal, state and local governments, the federal government shutdown causes much uncertainty and disruption at the local level. Budgeting is an increasingly difficult task for counties as the shutdown continues, and reimbursements tied to federal funding and grants are interrupted or slowed.
One example of the shutdown’s erosive impact is its disruption of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). On October 8, the North Carolina Department of Health announced that they had sent vouchers to 80 percent of their clients, but that they would not issue any further vouchers or accept any new applications. North Carolina is one of several states in which county health departments operate WIC. There is also growing concern about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which may not be able to issue benefits in November.
For more information on specific agency actions during the shutdown, click here.
Contact: Marilina Sanz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.942.4260