Lincoln County Journal

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Shutdown has local agencies on edge concerning funding

Posted on Monday, October 7, 2013 at 9:40 am

The effects of the government shut down have resulted in both  service interference, closure of some offices and created anxieties to those who work with lower income families and students.

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer issued the following statement after an agreement could not be realized in Congress resulting in a partial shutdown of the federal government. His words included the temporary closing of district offices and furloughs of staff members.

“It is a national tragedy that the U.S. Senate has for the fourth time decided that purely partisan politics comes before the needs of the American people by repeatedly rejecting calls by the House to negotiate a way to get the government up and running. Quite frankly, it is disgraceful that the Senate would chose to arrogantly reject a fourth bi-partisan House of Representatives’ continuing resolution to keep the government open, delaying the individual mandate in Obamacare for one year and eliminating subsidized health benefits for members of Congress and their staff.  The Senate’s refusal to compromise or even negotiate on this disastrous law is even more appalling given that the president himself has provided numerous groups, organizations, businesses and elected officials with delays and exemptions from Obamacare.  As a result of the Senate’s intransigence, I have no choice but to furlough much of my staff and shutter my district offices until this situation is resolved. We sincerely regret any inconvenience this will cause the hard-working folks of the Third District who deserve prompt and thorough constituent service from our office.”

Along party lines, Sen. Claire McCaskill sided with the Senate and Majority Leader Harry Reid.

“It is completely unacceptable that U.S. House Republicans are willing to shut down the government,” said McCaskill.  “This will upset our economic recovery and cause thousands of Missourians real pain. They know that the President will not back up on his work to provide affordable and accessible health care. They know that the Senate will not overturn these reforms. A decision was made at the ballot box last November, and supporters of the Affordable Care Act were returned to office by the American people. We can negotiate federal spending and the budget. We should not negotiate on keeping our government functioning and paying our bills. It is time for Speaker Boehner to allow the House to vote on a clean government funding bill without the unrealistic and irresponsible political posturing.”

April Bryant, community relations with the Lincoln County R-III School District in Troy, shared the  an email received Oct. 3 from The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

“DESE confirmed this morning the ability to access federal funds has not been interrupted. We were able to draw down USDA funds for food service yesterday, and also initiated a draw of funds from the U.S. Department of Education that was received today.  As it currently stands, routine automated grants-related transactions and drawdown of funds continues to be available until otherwise notified.

“While access to federal funds does not appear to be in jeopardy any longer due the Continuing Resolution issue, a failure to reach consensus on an agreement related to the debt ceiling limit by Oct. 17 will present an entirely new set of challenges.  Should a debt limit increase not be agreed upon on or before that date, the capacity for the federal government to continue to expend funds may be in jeopardy.”

DESE will continue to monitor the situation. The email was sent to districts throughout Missouri.

NECAC, which provides over 60 programs for the disadvantaged, has not felt the effects yet from the shutdown. Brent Engel, community relations director, said many of the funds have been allocated.

“We are continuing to serve clients  to meet the needs of the disadvantaged,” said Engel. “However, if this shutdown continues over a period of time, we would probably see program cuts.  Due to furloughs in the federal agencies, the communications have ended. If there are any cuts to our services, our clients will be notified.

Due to a lapse in appropriations for Rural Development as of October 1, Rural Development has initiated the process of orderly shutdown of nonessential operations.

“We understand the uncertainty that the current circumstances present for Americans that USDA serves every day, as well as our many partners around the country,” said   Doug  O’Brien, Acting Under Secretary, USDA-Rural Development.

Effective Oct. 1, many Rural Development staff were furloughed pending reinstatement of funding by Congress. These staff will not be available by phone or email, and cannot carry out work for the Agency, until funding is restored.

In Rural Development, this means that many services will be delayed or interrupted.  For example, Rural Development will not be able to make any new loans or grants.