CHICAGO—(ENEWSPF)—September 29, 2015 – With the prospect of another federal government shutdown still a possibility, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Representatives Mike Quigley (D-IL-05) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-09) held a news conference today to discuss the impact a shutdown would have on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Without Congressional action, the government will shut down on October 1, jeopardizing SNAP benefits for 46.5 million Americans, including two million people in Illinois. During the 2013 shutdown, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was able to use funds remaining from the Recovery Act to maintain SNAP operations, but those funds have now expired.
“In 2013, a small, vocal minority forced a shutdown for 16 days, impacting people and businesses across the country. Once again, Republicans are playing political games with the livelihood of some of our most vulnerable citizens. SNAP recipients include children whose parents are struggling to make ends meet, seniors living on a limited income, and men and women who lost their jobs or got sick,” Durbin said. “I hope that cooler heads will prevail in the coming days and Congress gets busy taking care of the work we were sent to do—fund the government and develop a budget that enables our country to thrive.”
“While Republicans play politics with the health care of millions of women, their latest government shutdown would hurt thousands of disabled veterans, disadvantaged children, small businesses, and working families across America,” said Rep. Quigley. “A government shutdown would suspend the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that was responsible for lifting five million Americans, including 2.2 million children out of poverty in 2012. Allowing the government to shutdown and for SNAP benefits to cease is simply irresponsible. Hardworking Americans deserve a government that is committed to creating jobs and investing in education, research, and improving our infrastructure, not a reckless agenda that threatens our economy over an assault on women’s health.”
Last week, USDA said it will use contingency funds to maintain SNAP operations in the case of a shutdown. USDA has $3 billion in contingency funds available, but it pays out $6 billion every month for benefits, most of which are drawn down at the beginning of the month. Once the contingency funds are exhausted, the entire EBT system will shut down.
In 2012, 661,950 children in Illinois lived in food insecure households. Nearly 255,180 of these food insecure children lived in Cook County. In 2013, 13.5% of seniors in Illinois were food insecure.
A shutdown legally prohibits federal departments, agencies, and the District of Columbia from entering into any further financial obligations for activities funded by the annual appropriations bills that have lapsed, with the exemption of activities affecting the safety of life or protection of property. For Illinois, this will mean worker furloughs, delays in Social Security and veterans benefits, ceased grant and loan processing across several federal agencies, and closure of national parks and sites.