Food stamps for 38 million low-income Americans would face severe reductions and more than $140 billion in tax refunds are at risk of being frozen or delayed if the government shutdown stretches into February, widespread disruptions that threaten to hurt the economy.
The Trump administration, which had not anticipated a long-term shutdown, recognized only this week the breadth of the potential impact, several senior administration officials said. The officials said they were focused now on understanding the scope of the consequences and determining whether there is anything they can do to intervene.
Thousands of federal programs are affected by the shutdown, but few intersect with the public as much as the tax system and the Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the current version of food stamps.
The partial shutdown has cut off new funding to the Treasury Department and the USDA, leaving them largely unstaffed and crippling both departments’ ability to fulfill core functions.
The SNAP program is rare among federal initiatives because it requires annual funding from Congress, even though its existence is automatically renewed.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a top House conservative who had cheered Trump’s approach in the political confrontation, said he was unaware that there would be any impact on SNAP benefits.
He said he was convinced this money was automatically appropriated by Congress; “Food stamps go on regardless,” he said.
This is not the case, however, according to several senior administration officials.Glenn Thrush at NYT:
Transportation Security Administration workers at several major airports around the country, working without pay since the partial government shutdown began on Dec. 22, have been calling in sick in heightened numbers, according to union and airport management officials.
More than 150 T.S.A. employees, many of them responsible for screening passengers, called in on Friday morning at Kennedy International Airport in New York to say they were ill or otherwise unable to work their shifts, according to a union official with knowledge of the situation.