ThinkProgress.org reminds us that, along with "nonessential government employees," i.e. most federal employees, it's poor mothers and their children that will be feeling the immediate effects of today's government shutdown:
Unlike Social Security checks and many other safety net programs that can continue to operate under a shutdown, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) will cease issuing payments, leaving state governments scrounging for leftover funds from other programs that could be used to pay WIC benefits. Nearly 9 million at-risk mothers, infants, and children stand to lose their government-provided food money should the government shut down, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Saturday.
Some states might be able “to continue operations for a week or so,” but “no additional federal funds would be available” to the program, according to the USDA memo on shutdown contingency planning. “States can probably shelter families receiving WIC from the effects of a shutdown for a short period, but it could be a real problem if it lasts more than a few days,” one analyst told the Huffington Post.
Here in Washington, WIC reaches over 195,000 women, infants, and children in 205 clinics across the state each month. That's one third of pregnant women in our state, almost half of all babies born, and one quarter of children under five who receive nutrition-rich foods and other vital help from WIC. We're talking baby food. Breast feeding assistance. Fruits and vegetables and milk and protein vouchers. Help with medical and dental care.
Fortunately, Washington's funding hasn't run completely out—health department spokesman Tim Church tells me their office has enough funds to continue serving its client base for about another week.
"Basically, we did not spend all of our money from the federal grant that ended yesterday," Church says. "Right now, we are still providing services but that will only last until October 9. We're certainly hopeful that this is settled before then because if not, we won't be able to continue serving those on WIC... to help moms give birth to healthy babies and help those healthy babies grow into healthy toddlers."
On a related note, please enjoy this awkward exchange, courtesy of CNN host Ashleigh Banfield, who confronted two Republican representatives—Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)—to see whether they would be willing to furlough their paychecks in solidarity with most other federal employees: