Some shutdown relief possible for mid-Missouri
Mon, 07 Oct 2013 01:22:18 GMT —
Six days into the federal shutdown, some groups in mid-Missouri may see services restored if the Senate approves measures to do so.
Since the shutdown started, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed bills funding specific government services, though these pieces of legislation fall far short of ending the shutdown entirely. On Oct. 3, the house passed measures to pay members of the Reserves and the National Guard and to restore VA benefits. The next day, another bill passed to restore funding to the USDA's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, popularly referred to as WIC. Then, on Saturday, another bill passed promising back pay to furloughed federal employees once they returned to work and the Department of Defense announced it would put most of its furloughed civilian employees back to work this week.
The catch to all of these measures is that they still have to pass the Democratic-led Senate even before going to President Obama's desk. They have been placed on the Senate calendar, but that does not mean Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has to bring them up for a vote. The Senate has not taken any votes since the shutdown began even though it has been in session. With the exception of the bill to provide back pay to furloughed employees, which passed unanimously and which President Obama has said he would sign, every measure funding specific government functions has passed on a mostly party-line vote. Missouri's representatives have mirrored this trend, with all six of its Republicans voting for each of the funding measures and its two Democrats voting against.
Both parties continue to blame each other for the impasse. On CBS' Face the Nation Sunday morning, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Tx., accused President Obama of prolonging the stalemate by not being willing to compromise.
"Seventeen times since 1976, the government has temporarily shut down because of an impasse over spending levels," Cornyn said. "And that's what has happened again. And we're not going to resolve this without the president engaging."
On the same program, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew leveled the same argument at Republicans.
"What we've seen is demands unless I get my way, you know, that we'll bring these terrible consequences of shutdown or default. Those kinds of threats have to stop," Lew said.
Even if the funding measures pass the Senate and get the president's signature, the shutdown would continue to affect services in mid-Missouri. Social Security offices would remain unable to issue new or replacement cards. Quarterly grants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Child Welfare Services and Community Service Block Grants would remain halted. The USDA's Rural Development program would still be unable to make any loans to encourage economic development in rural areas.
The house has several similar measures on its calendar this week, including measures to restore funding to Head Start, the FDA and the Department of Education's Impact Aid program. A continuing resolution to fund the government entirely, however, remains nowhere to be seen.