As the partial federal government shutdown continues well into its second week, the 116th Congress took their seats today.
Over the past few weeks we have received concerned calls and messages from people asking what this shutdown will mean for them. Though this has broader implications for federal services, many vital services to older adults will remain funded and operating during the shutdown. These include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and services like home-delivered meals and home and community-based services provided by PCOA and other Area Agencies on Aging across the country.
Critical infrastructure will continue to operate, including the military and law enforcement, meaning that our dedicated public servants will continue to work without pay from the federal government until the shutdown ends. This has been particularly taxing on families all across the country, especially given the holiday season.
For low-income older adults this shutdown has meant instability. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is shutdown - this is difficult for older adults who depend on HUD subsidized and affordable housing. Other important agencies are also shutdown like the Department of Education, the National Transportation Safety Board, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Other agencies may reduce the amount of staff working, for instance the IRS has furloughed roughly 56% of its employees.
The National Parks are also in disarray, effecting not only older adults but people of all ages who are looking to reconnect with nature and remain active. Though National Parks are open, they are not staffed, meaning there is no trash collection or janitorial service.
We encourage you to reach out to your new Members of Congress and the White House TODAY and ask them to come to a compromise to reopen the federal government.
Phone lines may be busy and during a federal shutdown Congressional staff are furloughed, so please be patient and persistent when calling or writing an email or letter.
There are many older adults who are or may become worried that essential benefits and services may not be available to them. Please share this with your friends and family to assure them that federal benefits and services most older adults receive will continue to function as usual.