Shutdown to cut office overseeing federal food stamps by 95%

As the government shutdown loomed over the holidays, heads of federal agencies and departments overseeing health and public assistance services tweeted that,...

Posted: Dec 26, 2018 10:02 AM
Updated: Dec 26, 2018 10:02 AM

As the government shutdown loomed over the holidays, heads of federal agencies and departments overseeing health and public assistance services tweeted that, regardless of what was happening in Washington, they were attending, as much as possible, to business as usual.

In a statement over the holiday weekend, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said, "There may be a lapse in funding for the federal government, but that will not relieve USDA of its responsibilities for safeguarding life and property through the critical services we provide."

According to the statement, 61% of the Department of Agriculture's employees would continue to work through the first week of the shutdown, but that number would decrease the longer the shutdown continues.

Some of the agency's offices to be hit hardest by the closure include the office of Food and Nutrition Services that oversees the Child Nutrition, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). By the end of the fifth day of the shutdown, staffing will be cut by 95%.

As of Tuesday, the department website displayed a message stating, "Due to a lapse in federal funding, this USDA website will not be actively updated. Once funding has been re-established, online operations will continue."

Eligible households will still receive monthly SNAP benefits for January. But other domestic nutrition assistance programs such as the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, WIC, and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations will only be operational based on available resources. Additional federal funds and commodities will not be provided during the shutdown.

Child nutrition programs including School Lunch, School Breakfast, Child and Adult Care Feeding, Summer Food Service and Special Milk will continue through February.

The Department of Agriculture will maintain meat, poultry and processed egg inspection services. Inspections of food imports and exports will also continue throughout the shutdown.

An end to the shutdown didn't appear to be in sight Tuesday, as President Trump dug his heels in over the budget. After a call with US Troops, the President said, "I can't tell you when the government is going to be open. I can tell you it's not going to be open until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they would like to call it."

Protecting and enhancing the well being of Americans

The Department of Health and Human Services expects that nearly 8,000 federal employees would not be returning to work on Wednesday as the shutdown continues. That number equals about a quarter of the department's employees.

Most of the department is funded through the fiscal year, and those positions and divisions that are being placed on leave are funded through Agriculture and Interior appropriations.

For the Department of Health and Human Services, among the activities that would continue are Indian Health Service clinics, response efforts from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and specific activities under the Food and Drug Administration, including responding to emergencies and managing high-risk recalls.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar reassured the country that the department's public health missions are being maintained, despite the holiday and shutdown.

"Thousands of my @HHSGov colleagues routinely work weekends and holidays, and many are tasked with working through shutdowns, to fulfill our mission to protect and enhance the health and well-being of all Americans. I'm grateful for their commitment & proud to be their colleague," Azar said on Twitter.

According to the Department, the FDA's missions that are critical to public health, such as tracking and responding to outbreaks related to foodborne illness and the flu, supporting high-risk food and medical product recalls, pursuing criminal and certain civil investigations when public health may be at risk, screening food and medical products imported into the United States, and addressing other critical public health issues will continue through the shutdown.

FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb expressed his gratitude to FDA employees who were continuing to work through the closure. "I'm so proud to lead an agency driven by so many dedicated people. Working on a holiday, and through a government shutdown, to fulfill their commitment to America," Gottlieb said on Twitter.

As of Tuesday night, the agency website displayed a message titled "FDA Lapse in Funding" on the top of its homepage. The message says, in part, that "agency operations continue to the extent permitted by law, such as activities necessary to address imminent threats to the safety of human life and activities funded by carryover user fee funds."

According to HHS, about 41% of the FDA's staff would be furloughed as of Wednesday, December 26.

The Department said that approximately 65% of staff from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry will not be returning to work that day either.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 71015

Reported Deaths: 3013
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15322723
Lake7343274
Elkhart471380
Allen3725160
St. Joseph330179
Hamilton2610104
Vanderburgh184213
Hendricks1814106
Cass17669
Johnson1694118
Porter123839
Clark114846
Tippecanoe114611
Madison89565
LaPorte86930
Howard85565
Kosciusko82712
Marshall75822
Bartholomew75447
Floyd74045
Monroe70830
Delaware68052
Dubois65812
Boone65346
Noble64529
Hancock63838
Jackson5625
LaGrange55410
Warrick55330
Vigo54310
Shelby53527
Grant52029
Dearborn47928
Morgan45134
Clinton4043
Henry36919
White35110
Montgomery34621
Wayne34610
Lawrence33727
Decatur32432
Harrison30923
Putnam2778
Miami2642
Daviess25920
Scott25710
Greene24134
Franklin23413
DeKalb2234
Jasper2192
Jennings21512
Gibson2084
Steuben2043
Ripley1947
Perry17912
Fayette1777
Starke1747
Orange16624
Posey1650
Wabash1613
Fulton1592
Carroll1572
Wells1542
Jefferson1532
Whitley1476
Knox1420
Tipton1296
Huntington1213
Washington1211
Spencer1193
Newton11410
Randolph1144
Clay1045
Sullivan911
Adams892
Jay840
Owen831
Pulaski751
Brown711
Rush714
Fountain642
Benton600
Blackford592
Ohio574
Pike520
Parke501
Vermillion480
Crawford440
Switzerland440
Martin420
Union350
Warren201
Unassigned0202

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 97471

Reported Deaths: 3618
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin17834521
Cuyahoga13141491
Hamilton9374252
Lucas5155320
Montgomery417487
Summit3433218
Marion291045
Butler282262
Mahoning2477254
Pickaway237842
Stark1766137
Warren171136
Lorain168977
Columbiana161860
Trumbull1481105
Fairfield130931
Delaware126319
Licking120247
Clark111514
Lake107338
Wood99358
Clermont89211
Medina88735
Miami81137
Tuscarawas76214
Portage74361
Allen69942
Greene65611
Belmont59226
Richland58911
Mercer57313
Erie55627
Ashtabula55045
Geauga54844
Wayne51958
Ross4444
Huron3885
Ottawa36825
Sandusky36316
Darke36027
Athens3531
Hancock3533
Madison34910
Holmes3266
Lawrence2420
Auglaize2395
Union2331
Jefferson2192
Muskingum2151
Scioto2111
Putnam19917
Washington19822
Knox1917
Seneca1903
Coshocton1886
Shelby1774
Preble1762
Crawford1715
Morrow1652
Hardin15912
Clinton1586
Champaign1571
Highland1461
Fulton1441
Logan1402
Ashland1373
Wyandot1368
Defiance1334
Williams1303
Brown1232
Perry1163
Guernsey1147
Hocking1149
Henry1132
Carroll1105
Fayette1090
Monroe9118
Pike750
Jackson730
Van Wert701
Paulding640
Gallia621
Adams592
Meigs330
Vinton302
Morgan230
Harrison221
Noble170
Unassigned00
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