Alaskans worry about paychecks, SNAP benefits if government shutdown occurs
Many federally funded benefits will remain in place, but military personnel might go without pay
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - As the potential for a government shutdown movers closer towards a Sept. 30 deadline, the U.S. Senate and House are still at odds in Washington D.C. Without an agreement on a funding bill Congress needs to maintain government funding, many federal employees are preparing to be furloughed while federally funded entities remain at risk of shutting down.
Shirley Sakaye with the Department of Health said SNAP, Medicaid, and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women (WIC) will remain in place — for now.
“In the event of a federal government shutdown, the Division of Public Assistance — within the Department of Health, DPA — has a plan in place that will ensure SNAP benefits are funded through October. And then if the shutdown goes beyond October the feds have stated they’ll provide guidance to the states,” Sakaye said.
According to Sakaye, Medicaid is funded through the first quarter of the 2024 fiscal year. This means benefits will be paid out through the end of December, while carry-forward funds — unspent funds from the previous fiscal year — would finance WIC benefits.
“The amount that we have in [the carry-forward] fund, it looks like it should last three to four months,” Sakaye said.
Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan has been lobbying the Senate to pass a bill to ensure active-duty military members would continue to receive a paycheck during the possible shutdown. The Senator tried to get the Pay Our Military Act passed twice this week, but both efforts were saddled by Washington’s Sen. Patty Murray who argued that the focus should be on avoiding a shutdown, not new legislation.
<senate floor 06> “We do have a straightforward bipartisan CR package to avoid a shutdown and keep our military paid,” Murray said on the Senate floor Wednesday. “We should do our jobs, get that done, and get it passed — that is principle, Mr. President, not politics. Do our job, pass this bill, so we don’t have a shutdown.”
Murray then objected to Sullivan’s request for Congress to pass the bill that includes members of the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard and Space Force.
Sullivan responded to Murray’s use of the phrase “let’s be real” in her objection speech.
“There’s nothing more real than putting your life on the line for the country you love, and nothing more important than defending those who defend us,” Sullivan said. “There are some special people who serve in our government — in my view very special people — who deserve to be taken care of. It’s the men and women and their families who are serving right now.”
According to Sullivan’s office, the Alaska Senator tried to pass the legislation again Friday but was once again blocked by Sen. Murray.
If an agreement is not reached, the government is set to shut down at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.
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