The government shutdown has ended, but this disaster may have a sequel. Lawmakers approved a budget that will let the Treasury Department pay the bills until the February 7th debt ceiling deadline, but if further agreements aren’t reached by January 15, another shutdown will commence. Although Congress is adamantly asserting that they will prevent this outcome, few solutions have been brought to the table.
The cost of the shutdown is still being debated, but it is estimated to be in the billions. The cost of placing important support networks at risk, however, may be harder to tally. Local programs that rely on federal funding to help the homeless had to shut down orfind new ways to pay rent fees; the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development abruptly stopped processing paperwork, keeping people from moving into supportive housing; and the Department of Veterans Affairs struggled to keep up with backdated disability claims. For these already fiscally-stressed networks, a continued pattern of shutdown threats will lead to insecurity for many vulnerable beneficiaries.