CLOSINGS: View Closings

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 he...

Posted: Dec 27, 2018 6:31 AM
Updated: Dec 27, 2018 6:31 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."

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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.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 295001

Reported Deaths: 3535
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin624331107
Ramsey26238493
Anoka20851224
Dakota20527189
Stearns13245106
Washington13220111
St. Louis8141108
Scott798154
Wright720338
Olmsted639934
Sherburne552241
Clay473356
Carver443213
Blue Earth395813
Rice393335
Kandiyohi378719
Crow Wing344731
Nobles301429
Chisago29799
Otter Tail288820
Benton285847
Winona266629
Mower248523
Douglas242235
Polk238223
Morrison224027
Lyon206711
Beltrami202517
McLeod198511
Becker194015
Goodhue190628
Steele18336
Itasca179123
Isanti179016
Todd173912
Carlton170414
Nicollet154925
Freeborn14795
Mille Lacs145131
Le Sueur141111
Waseca135911
Cass133310
Brown131215
Pine12788
Meeker11638
Roseau11074
Hubbard107523
Martin105520
Wabasha9941
Redwood87518
Dodge8230
Chippewa8157
Watonwan8104
Cottonwood7942
Renville77322
Sibley7564
Wadena7476
Aitkin71729
Rock7149
Pipestone69618
Houston6534
Fillmore6510
Yellow Medicine61511
Pennington6137
Murray5623
Kanabec55713
Swift5448
Faribault5251
Pope5071
Clearwater4817
Stevens4813
Jackson4581
Marshall4508
Lake3916
Unassigned38659
Koochiching3675
Wilkin3605
Lac qui Parle3513
Lincoln3331
Norman3307
Big Stone2962
Mahnomen2834
Grant2566
Red Lake2033
Kittson2027
Traverse1391
Lake of the Woods941
Cook630

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 223783

Reported Deaths: 2330
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk33166333
Linn13991164
Scott1100384
Black Hawk10795134
Woodbury10255124
Johnson940036
Dubuque913491
Story674921
Dallas629057
Pottawattamie617069
Sioux366725
Webster357033
Cerro Gordo349644
Marshall346345
Clinton322840
Buena Vista302214
Muscatine282668
Des Moines282419
Warren276411
Plymouth270641
Wapello251571
Jones228413
Jasper214643
Marion202919
Lee199416
Carroll196422
Bremer192612
Henry18107
Crawford174115
Benton167418
Tama153340
Jackson143013
Delaware141021
Washington138214
Dickinson135810
Boone134811
Mahaska126127
Wright12226
Buchanan115410
Clay11504
Hardin114010
Page11144
Hamilton11009
Clayton10875
Harrison106629
Cedar106213
Calhoun10607
Kossuth10426
Floyd103916
Mills10297
Fayette102210
Lyon10188
Butler9916
Poweshiek98213
Winneshiek95812
Iowa93012
Winnebago91323
Hancock8547
Louisa84916
Grundy84611
Chickasaw8424
Sac8407
Cherokee8214
Cass80222
Allamakee79011
Appanoose77910
Mitchell7794
Humboldt7635
Shelby76111
Union7576
Emmet74924
Guthrie74115
Franklin73421
Jefferson7062
Madison6764
Palo Alto6474
Unassigned6470
Keokuk5777
Pocahontas5572
Howard5489
Greene5170
Osceola5171
Ida48113
Clarke4774
Taylor4603
Davis4548
Montgomery45011
Monroe43912
Adair4298
Monona4272
Fremont3553
Van Buren3545
Worth3540
Lucas3226
Decatur3160
Audubon2952
Wayne2957
Ringgold2082
Adams1652
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