The Senate Must Act to Reopen Government, Protect Vulnerable Communities

By Amelia Kegan, January 15, 2019

On January 15, FCNL sent this letter to Senate staff outlining the impacts of the longest lapse in federal funding in history and urging Congress immediately pass bipartisan, responsible spending bills.

FCNL urges Congress to immediately reopen the government without exacerbating border militarization or immigrant detention.

Communities across the nation, including federal workers, individuals relying on federal programs, border residents, and migrants alike, need Congress to end the partial shutdown and pass responsible, bipartisan spending bills. Withholding pay from civil servants, including employees at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Agriculture (USDA), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Parks, Treasury, and other agencies is irresponsible, immoral, and bad governance.

Every day that the government is shut down, the negative impact on individuals and communities across the country worsens. As the shutdown drags on, here is a snapshot of what is at stake:

  • Increased Hunger: Millions of low-income children, seniors, people with disabilities, working parents and others could see their SNAP benefits cut significantly or even eliminated if the shutdown continues into March and beyond.
  • Risk of Eviction & Homelessness: 1,150 contracts for existing affordable housing are under suspension, putting roughly 80,000 low income people at risk of losing their homes. By the end of February, this number will nearly double. The impact will fall hardest on seniors and people with disabilities with income less than $13,000 per year. By March, funding for Section 8 vouchers will end, putting 2.2 million low-income households at risk of steep rental increases or possibly even eviction.
  • Eroded Safety in Public Housing: Public housing agencies currently do not have access to much needed capital repair funding, leaving them without money to make critical public housing repairs or upgrades, putting public housing residents at risk.
  • Leaving Native Communities Behind: The shutdown of the Bureau of Indian Affairs means funding has dried up for Indian Health Services, law enforcement services, tribal courts, disaster relief, and road maintenance in Indian Country. Further funding lapses threaten nutrition assistance and other vital services.
  • Denying Justice: The Department of Justice is struggling to keep basic functions operating. Federal courts have needed to put off new hires and put cases on hold. Thousands of cases in federal immigration court have been cancelled leaving a backlog of more than 800,000 cases. Survivors of domestic violence and child abuse may see their assistance cut off as the department ceases to process victim’s assistance grants.

We are urging Leader McConnell to bring the remaining spending bills to the floor and immediately reopen the government without further militarizing the border or increasing immigrant detention.

We urge Senators to work with colleagues across the aisle on a solution that will protect our communities, restore vital services, resume paychecks, and provide stability for the hundreds of thousands of individuals affected by the shutdown.

Amelia Kegan

  • Legislative Director, Domestic Policy

Amelia Kegan leads the domestic policy team's work in analyzing legislation, advocating on Capitol Hill, and developing legislative strategy. Prior to coming to FCNL, Amelia worked at a variety of other national non-profits in D.C. and Chicago, focusing on federal budget, tax, and low-income policy.