WATERLOO | There’s no end in sight to the partial federal government shutdown, even as Washington starts to gear up for a battle over raising the debt ceiling.
So far, effects of the shutdown have been moderate, but that could change if the stalemate continues into November. Programs such as Women, Infants and Children, which provides nutritious food for low-income families with young children, have been operating on funds distributed before the shutdown. However, on Nov. 1 that money could dry up.
Barb Prather, executive director of the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, is looking at what the shutdown will mean for that organization.
"I'm anticipating we'll see more people here. We're in the beginning stages of putting together a contingency plan together to hopefully work with that," Prather said.
However, Prather is not sure how all the situation will play out and what the food bank's role will be if the shutdown continues.
Veterans may feel the shutdown's bite sooner. On Wednesday, the director of the Veterans Administration told lawmakers in Washington that if the government is still partially shut down in late October, 315,000 veterans and 202,000 surviving spouses and dependents will miss their pension checks.
Already payments have been delayed, and the backlog of pending disability claims has been growing.
Dave Nagle, a former congressman from Cedar Falls, also has concerns about the double impact of the federal government shutdown and the possibility of Congress failing to authorize an increase in the debt ceiling next week.
"What happens to the food stamp program if there’s no money in the pipeline to provide for food stamps? What happens to heating assistance?” Nagle asked. "As a community we would be better off if we come up with a plan on how to deal with this"
If food assistance programs, including Meals on Wheels, start falling short of money or have no funding at all for a period of time, private groups will need to fill in the gaps to help low-income and disabled people.
Nagle's concern is that there isn't a central clearinghouse of the help available. He suugests one agency could step up to coordinate efforts, perhaps the county government.
On Wednesday, Iowa’s congressional delegation didn’t express any expectation of an end to the shutdown. However, both 1st District Congressman Bruce Braley and Sen. Charles Grassley said President Barack Obama’s invitation to have members of Congress come to the White House for discussions held potential.
See SHUTDOWN, page A2
Iowans in Congress don’t
see any end to impasse