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Tag Archive | "government shutdown"

How to improve the road ahead


V-Lee-HamiltonBy Lee H. Hamilton

 

One of the more amazing spectacles in the days after the government shutdown ended was the obsession in Washington with who won and who lost in the showdown. Yes, the capital is focused on next year’s elections, but honestly! There was only one real loser, and that was the American people.
Why? Because nothing got resolved. The agreement leaves the government open only until mid-January, and gives the Treasury the ability to borrow through early February. This is the barest minimum that we needed. So the question is, can we avoid a similar crisis down the road? To do so, Congress must confront three enormous challenges. To begin with, great democracies do not lurch from doomsday moment to doomsday moment. They plan ahead, they resolve their challenges, they fulfill their responsibilities abroad and respond to their own people’s needs. Congress can do none of these things so long as its members respond only to brinksmanship, resolving one crisis by setting up another a few months down the road.

Second, I find myself thinking often these days of the skillful legislators I’ve known over the years. Where are their counterparts today? Congress only works well when politicians and staff understand that each party has to walk away with something; that it’s crucial to preserve flexibility and avoid scorched-earth rhetoric; and that it takes people with the fortitude not to walk away from talks when things are going poorly. Congress needs legislators who are willing to roll up their sleeves and commit fully to the process.

Finally, Congress is weak today. By its inaction, it has given power to the President, who can use executive actions to enact policy. It has strengthened the federal bureaucracy by leaving regulatory decisions to federal agencies with very little direction or oversight. It has given massive economic power to the Federal Reserve, since someone has to promote economic growth. And it has allowed the Supreme Court to become the central policy-making body on controversial issues from campaign finance to affirmative action to environmental regulation.

“Any society that relies on nine unelected judges to resolve the most serious issues of the day is not a functioning democracy,” Justice Anthony Kennedy said in a recent speech. I’m sorry to say that he’s talking about us.

Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

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WIC Program is in operation


The Kent County Health Department said WIC is still operating.

The Kent County Health Department said WIC is still operating.

Government shutdown has threatened funding, but remains in place until further notice 

from the Kent County Health Department

Some federal offices and programs are immediately feeling the brunt of the government shutdown. While federal spending has been cut for USDA programs, the Kent County Health Department would like to assure clients of the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) that the funding is in place in Michigan until further notice.

The Michigan Department of Community Health has stated that by using 2013 “spend forward funding” and reallocation funds from USDA, WIC should be able to sustain both administrative and food costs for four or five weeks.

“We are receiving many calls from mothers who are confused and concerned about program cuts,” said Adam London, Administrative Health Officer of the Kent County Health Department. “We are still accepting appointments with clients and potential clients. Vendors are still able to accept WIC EBT (Bridge) cards for client purchases until further notice.”

“While it is unclear at this time how long this shutdown will remain in effect, or what will happen after four weeks, Kent County Health Department remains committed to keeping our clients updated on this situation,” London added.

 

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