County Executive Marc Elrich On What The Federal Government Shutdown Could Mean For Montgomery County Residents

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich wrote about the Federal shutdown and what it could mean for residents of the county in his weekly message to the community. The full portion regarding the shutdown can be seen below:

“Montgomery County is home to tens of thousands of Federal government workers and so the threat of a Federal shutdown feels very close for many residents. For some of our Federal employee families, losing just one paycheck may create a family crisis.
I invited Congressman Jamie Raskin to join me for my weekly media briefing to talk about the situation. He gave some background and an update on the current situation. He explained that all active Federal employees will be paid eventually, even if there is a shutdown. However, that is not true for the many contractors whose livelihoods are intimately connected to the Federal government. As I said at the press briefing, I so appreciate Congressman Raskin’s effort in this moment and generally. He and his staff continue to be great partners in matters large and small.The worst government shutdown came soon after I first became County Executive in late 2018/early 2019 when 38 percent of the Federal workforce was out of work for more than a month. I remember the stress it put on our residents, businesses and even our own government operation. If a shutdown happens, it is important to note that veterans benefits, healthcare plans and Social Security payments will generally continue uninterrupted, but some additional services from the Veterans Administration and elsewhere may not be available. Other services like customs and air traffic control will continue, but those employees will be working without pay (although they eventually will be reimbursed). Federal employees can get more information from the Office of Personnel Management.

Let’s be clear: a small group of Republicans is responsible for this impasse. Congressman Raskin believes it could be tied to efforts by former President Trump to create chaos and stop Federal investigations against him. The former President remains all too happy to place himself at the center above everyone else.

A shutdown could jeopardize important safety-net programs. As the Agriculture Secretary told the New York Times this week, “If we have a shutdown, WIC shuts down.” WIC stands for Women, Infants and Children and provides healthy food for pregnant and new mothers and children under age 5. In 2021, an average of more than 16,000 children and nearly 13,000 women in Montgomery County participated in WIC. Based on census data estimates, there are more than 65,000 children under age 6 who could be enrolled in WIC. Congressman Raskin and others noted that the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides food for low-income families, could quickly run out of funds and also become unavailable. We have multiple food assistance programs and we will do what we can to help out, but we will not be able to replace the Federal resources.

In previous shutdowns, Federal research labs have had to shutter important work, which could impact some of the companies that have made Montgomery County one of the top life sciences hubs in the nation. Congressman Raskin told us that NIH will suspend new clinical trials during a shutdown. These trials lead to important medical advancements and draw people to our area from all over the country looking for hope in their health struggles.

The fight over this shutdown stems from Republican efforts to destroy important Federal programs that make a meaningful difference in peoples’ lives. They are insisting on budget provisions that are indefensible.

One Republican proposal is to cut Title 1 funding by 82 percent. What does that mean for Montgomery County? Our school system currently receives about $51 million in Title I, which goes to 35 of our schools serving our most-impacted students and communities. This funds about 300 teachers and staff in Title I schools, including full-day Head Start programs. Given the children who benefit from this funding, their attack on this is nothing less than a racist cynical maneuver to continue the inequality that is the legacy of slavery.

Slashing Federal funding would cut MCPS’s allocation by $42 million to just $9 million and would reduce the critical supports our Title I schools receive. This money funds Title I summer programing, academic interventions, social emotional supports and other direct services to students.

This is absurd, mean-spirited and bad for the nation. We hope that saner minds will prevail and convince enough Republicans to do what is right for our country and avoid unnecessary damage to our communities, families and quality of life.”

To keep up to date with federal shutdown contingency plan developed by each department, visit this website for details on contingency plans for each department of the government.

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