It’s been a day since the incomprehensible government shutdown happened, and it looks like we’re in for the long haul. NPR put it simply: “No end in sight.”
Those nearly-million furloughed federal employees have our sympathy and those of local businesses with deals popping up for shut-out government employees. Even private business owners can see what it seems that Congress can’t: This just isn’t right.
It’s not just the “non-essential” government workers who are being affected by the shutdown. As the hours turn into days, the real-life impacts on the American people are becoming clear. Here’s a short list of what’s got us worked-up so far. Unfortunately, it’s a collection that’s sure to grow.
• FOIA requests will be put on hold. Government employees who respond are considered non-essential, and the already back-logged pile of requests will get larger and larger.
• With flu season quickly approaching, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will be seriously debilitated. According to a memo, flu shot programs for high-risk individuals will continue but they will be operating with “a significantly reduced capacity to respond to outbreak investigations, processing of laboratory samples, and maintaining the agency’s 24/7 emergency operations center.”
• The VA’s progress on backlogged disability claims will reverse. In recent weeks, we were encouraged to learn the VA was reducing the number of veterans waiting to receive medical benefits. According to a tweet from a VA official yesterday, “After decreasing backlog by 30% we project it will start increasing.”
• Medicare and Social Security Benefits will continue to be sent out, but anyone submitting a new application will have to wait. Those applying for small business loans will also have to wait. There’s simply nobody there to process the requests.
• The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is not admitting new patients to its clinical trials. NIH is missing about three-quarters of its staff, and according to The Wall Street Journal, "director Francis Collins said about 200 patients who otherwise would be admitted to the NIH Clinical Center into clinical trials each week will be turned away. This includes about 30 children, most of them cancer patients."