Three days after a shutdown of the federal government went into effect, our congressional leaders remain unable to reach a compromise to keep our government’s doors open. The impact of this shutdown is being felt in communities across the nation.
While some may wonder what effect political disagreements in Washington, D.C., could have on people in need across our country, the truth of the matter is that uncertainty, furloughs, and limited resources at federal agencies directly hinder the vital work Catholic Charities agencies do every day. The director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas, put it plainly: The “impact of a government shutdown on Catholic Charities, our staff, our programs, and, most importantly, the clients we serve, is real.”
In Tallahassee, furloughed workers are already coming to Catholic Charities agencies in need, their lost pay putting their family at risk of going hungry. In Southern Nevada, seniors are worried that they will lose the food and companionship they have grown to count on through the Meals on Wheels program. And in Lubbock, a program for runaway youth is in jeopardy while grant-funded positions are on hiatus. And these are just a few of the many stories we’ve heard from the first two days of the shutdown; more will undoubtedly be impacted if it allowed to drag on.
Our agencies are being forced to choose between shutting the doors to much-needed programs or open them at a severe loss while waiting for government reimbursement that may or may not ever come. The longer this stalemate continues, the wider the ripples of Congress’ failure to compromise will spread. We call on Congress to fulfill their responsibility of protecting the common good and end this shutdown now.
Thank you to Catholic Charities agencies in Southeast Texas, Guam, Venice, FL, Northern Kansas, Southern Arizona, Camden, NJ, Wichita, KS, San Jose, CA, Southern Nevada, Anchorage, AK, Lubbock, TX, Northwest Florida, Hartford, CT, Philadelphia, Corpus Christi, TX, Norwich, CT, Dallas, TX, Maine, and Eastern Virginia for sharing their stories with us to illustrate the real-time impact of the shutdown. This is not a complete list of those affected by the shutdown, and we expect this list to grow as the effects continue to make themselves felt.