JCPA: Government Shutdown Is “Insult to Our Democratic System”

Programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) will run out of money, leaving 9 million women and children without nutrition assistance. WIC office in Kings County, Cali.

— by Benjamin Suarato

Unable to agree on a new appropriations bill, Congress has instead opted for a government shutdown, “which its impact will be felt most by the vulnerable among us,” according to the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

“This government shutdown is a product of a dysfunctional Congress,” said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow.

And once again, our most vulnerable must suffer. Because of this dysfunction, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) will run out of money, leaving 9 million women and children without nutrition assistance. Head Start, which creates opportunity for children, would also suffer an immediate reduction. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal employees in each of our communities, who will still be expected to meet their financial obligations even as we, as a nation, neglect ours. It is a callous abdication of our political leaders’ responsibility, and an insult to our democratic system, to ask those with the least to suffer from an inability to compromise.

More after the jump.
Last month, JCPA Vice President and Washington Director Jared Feldman sent a letter to Congress urging them to “craft a federal appropriations bill that prevents a government shutdown and furthers fiscal equity.” Citing the Biblical command that “there shall be no needy among you,” the letter specifically called to protect WIC and Head Start, among other programs, and for a restoration of the cuts from the sequester.  

“The clock is ticking on how long dysfunction can rule,” said JCPA Chair Larry Gold.

States can temporarily shoulder extra burdens, but as the days continue, the effects of a government shutdown will grow more serious. The stakes are too high for our leaders to be focused on political posturing, instead of serious governing. We call on Washington to quickly end this shutdown by passing a budget that restores funding to critical programs, promotes opportunity, helps to lift our most vulnerable, and ends the cycle of a country that lurches from crisis to crisis.



  1. Publisher says

    Ezra Klein at the Washington Post wrote a great piece explaining the worst consequences of the shutdown.

    Everyone’s heard that the panda cam at the National Zoo will power down, but that’s hardly the most serious consequence of a shutdown. The biggest disruptions are less visible – the workers going without pay, the patients turned away from research clinics, and so on.

    Here is Klein’s list. See the full article for details.

    1. More than 2 million federal workers will see their paychecks delayed – and 800,000 of them might never get repaid.
    2. Millions of veterans may not receive benefits if the shutdown lasts more than two weeks.
    3. The CDC will halt its flu program just as flu season gets underway.
    4. Some food-safety operations would cease.
    5. Nutritional programs for women, infants and children could be disrupted after a week.
    6. Financing for small businesses could be hampered.
    7. The tourist trade would take a hit.
    8. Head Start programs for hundreds of kids will slowly start closing.
    9. Disability benefits could be interrupted.
    10. Kids with cancer could get turned away from treatment.

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