Credit: Char Houweling
Credit: Char Houweling

The federal government has shut down, taking away services many citizens, including Lane students, rely upon for their basic needs. Lane students may not currently see an impact, but if Congress continues to be divided in their willingness to provide funding, it’s only a matter of time until the effects are felt by students on our campus, according to Lane President Mary Spilde.

Congress’ sole constitutional duty is to pass spending bills that fund the federal government. On Oct. 1 Republicans refused to pass any spending bill void of provisions to defund or disrupt Obamacare.

A government shutdown takes away the government’s legal authority to spend money on what legislators consider non-essential services.

Financial aid will continue to flow, for now.

“Financial aid was already dispersed. So at least for this term, we’re okay with that,” Spilde said.

Veterans are currently experiencing an even longer delay than usual in the processing of their disability claims. Over 3.5 million citizens, who have either served or have spouses who have served, face receiving no compensation or pension payments in November.

“However, in the event of a prolonged shutdown, claims processing and payments in these programs would be suspended when available funding is exhausted,” according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Field Guide to the Government Shutdown.

Oregon’s WIC program – the federally funded, state-run program that provides nutritional and health care benefits to single mothers of young children – is continuing to run, but we wonder how long that can continue. WIC will cease providing benefits in North Carolina, according to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, despite federal attempts at continuing funding to WIC programs nationwide.

At Section 8, a program that supplies rental assistance to low-income families, applications will not be processed and public housing funding, while currently proclaimed safe for the month of October by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, is also in jeopardy if the shutdown persists.

“However, PHAs (Public Housing Agencies) are advised that HUD may be unable to make additional HAP (Housing Assistance Payment) and administrative fee disbursements beyond the October payment in the event of a prolonged government shutdown,” according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s government shutdown contingency plan.

Head Start is a program that provides developmental and educational services to low-income families and also faces a potential lack of funding.

“The Head Start program that we have here at Lane is still operating. I mean that’s with federal money, they’ve got enough to see that through,” Spilde said. “So, I think it’s more a question of how long it will last.”

The government shutdown will affect those relying on federal assistance the most and those receiving it need to speak up for themselves. Congress is still getting paid, thanks to the 27th Amendment to the Constitution.

The IRS is still collecting the tax money that pays congressional salaries. If Congress puts first the needs of the people who are paying their salaries, its members will restore government benefits.

Tell your representatives this shutdown is unacceptable. If you don’t think they’ll listen to you – and who would blame you, after all – then send this message through student government and other student organizations such as the Oregon Student Association and National Student Association that represent you.