A close call by Congress


Alana Galloway ’16

Congress averted a crisis when they passed legislation to fund and reopen the government October 16, approximately 15 days after the initial shutdown scare.

The government’s struggle to come to a consensus on whether or not to implement President Barack Obama’s new form of health care resulted in a government shutdown on October 1. Excessive controversy and dispute continued for over two weeks.

Alana Galloway '16
Alana Galloway ’16

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell crafted a bill to re-open the government October 17. The bill passed through the Senate with an 81 to 18 vote, and then proceeded to pass through the House of Representatives with a 285 to 144 vote. Those opposed to the bill were predominantly Republicans against ObamaCare, President Obama’s proposed health care plan. Although controversy continues, Congress decided to re-open for the benefit of the people.

During the government shutdown, there was no spending agreement in Washington D.C., which meant workers were not getting paid, and states were forced to make up for economic shortages. The resumption of the government means that 800,000 people can return to work, and the millions struggling without pay will receive income again.
There was previously no given date for the government to resume session, so people were understandably frightened of what would occur if it did not open soon. Families were struggling due to the absence of income, and some went without adequate amounts of food.
Funding stopped for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), which provides food for low-income mothers, children and seniors, and the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which is responsible for providing commodity foods to food banks and soup kitchens.
The Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) also ceased to receive support from the government, which meant Native Americans and those living on Indian reservations did not have easy access to food stores.
After the government resolved the shutdown, funding resumed for most of these services. The government expects the remainder to reopen in the near future.
In an interview conducted by email, Convent of The Sacred Heart Upper School History Teacher Mr. Paul Grisanti said, “Delays in helping the needy are a disgrace and some of that happened in the shutdown. The average citizen does not just have a right to be aware of these matters; they have an obligation to do so.”
Government shutdowns affect everyone to some degree, but the most pressing of all is the threat and fear of poverty and hunger. Over 47 million Americans currently rely on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, like food stamps. During the shutdown, only eligible households were receiving benefits for the month of October, and there was no guarantee of food stamp eligibility in November.
The threat of poverty was rapidly impeding during closure, but unease in the US has diminished now that the government is open again.
– Alana Galloway, Staff Writer