“Oh no, not again,” is what Julia Sosa thought when she heard the federal government was at risk of shutting down on October 1. She knew she had to get involved, as she has so many times before, to make her voice heard.
Sosa joined an organizing call with Community Change in early September, where folks from all over the country came together to talk about what a government shutdown might mean for them and how they needed to contact their members of Congress and urge them to fund the programs their families need.
In California, Sosa said, rent and food is so high and many folks struggle just to survive.
If the federal government shuts down, nearly 7 million mothers of young children and pregnant people could see their food benefits halted, according to the Biden Administration. And the 42 million Americans who rely on SNAP could also risk losing their benefits white the government is shut down.
Fari Ghamina Tumpe, a custodial grandmother in D.C., relies on SNAP to feed her family. Three of the children she’s raising have disabilities and rely on transportation to and from their schools that she worries might be impacted by the shutdown.
“Our entire lives are built around social services and so if the government shuts down, then our lives will shut down,” Ghamina-Tumpe said.
She’s also worried about the impact on childcare centers.
Not only do childcare providers have to deal with the impending child care fiscal cliff as stabilization funds from the American Rescue Plan run out on September 30, they’re also worried about the impact that putting millions of federal workers’ jobs at risk will have on the childcare sector.
JoAnne Hurt, the Executive Director of Wonders Learning, which has early education centers throughout D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, noted that many of the families who will be most impacted by a shutdown are those who pay full tuition for child care.
“If we lose that cash flow, it could impact the center’s bottom line,” Hurt said.
But this isn’t just a problem for the nation’s Capital. Nearly 80 percent of government jobs that could be impacted are located outside of D.C., in communities all over the country.
Patricia Philips Keller has been here before. She’s a retired government worker from Denver, Colorado who also joined one of Community Change’s organizing calls and talked about how she went through the last shutdown. She was the sole breadwinner for her house, and when the shutdown happened in 2018 and lasted for more than a month, she didn’t qualify for food stamps and had to rely on food pantries to make ends meet.
It seems that this is the future House Republicans are gunning for.
“They want to defund the whole education department,” Nina Singer, who joined the call from Florida, said. “That kind of scares me. What they’re doing here in Florida with education is unbelievable.”
What they — namely Gov. DeSantis and the Florida GOP — are doing is putting bans and limitations on certain topics like sexual and gender studies and racism in U.S. history and defunding diversity initiatives.
While Republicans have sought to do the same in other states, they’re also attacking education at the federal level. One of the cuts House Republicans want to make — so badly they’re willing to force a government shutdown — is billions from our public K-12 and early education system, potentially forcing layoffs of up to 226,000 teachers and staff, impacting 26 million students.
You might be wondering why the House GOP seems dead set on hurling ordinary Americans into a debt-riddled sinkhole. The answer becomes clearer once you realize that another one of the cuts they want to make is to an Inflation Reduction Act program meant to go after wealthy tax cheats who have been avoiding paying their fair share. At the same time, they’re trying to push through trillions in tax cuts for corporations.
The workers and families who joined Community Change’s organizing call were clear-headed about the House GOP’s choice to put billionaires over the rest of us and they are making it known in their communities. One thing the House Republicans can’t shut down are the voices of those who refuse to stay silent and will continue to fight for what they need.