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Shutdown Threatens Food Safety

Health risks rise as shutdown hits second month. Forbes: “The government shutdown is threatening the health of millions of Americans, increasing the risk for harm as the partial closure of key federal agencies enters its second month, say public health, medical and food safety groups. Hundreds of organizations representing doctors, hospitals and public health urged the White House and Congress to end the government shutdown in a letter last week to President Donald Trump. As of Tuesday, the shutdown began its 32nd day, adding to worries that food safety for Americans was endangered along with the mounting health needs of 800,000 furloughed government workers. ‘Several agencies’ ability to provide critical services, ranging from food and environmental risk inspections to health services, have already been drastically reduced or are threatened if the shutdown continues,’ the more than 280 organizations wrote in their letter, which was sent to Trump at the White House and posted on the Trust for America’s Health website. ‘We fear a prolonged shutdown will cause needless suffering and have long-lasting health consequences. Basic health protections could be endangered by an ongoing shutdown.’ Worries are mounting about the federal government’s suspension of ‘routine food inspections except at ‘high-risk facilities’ and the Food and Drug Administration’s ‘ability to enforce food safety rules,” the health organizations wrote to Trump. The FDA is “sharply impaired as 40 percent of its workforce is furloughed.’ ‘The FDA oversees 80 percent of the food supply, and regular inspections and enforcement help stop food borne illness before people get sick,’ the health organizations wrote to Trump. ‘The FDA also will not be able to assess new drug and device applications if the shutdown continues, meaning life-saving innovations will take longer to come to market.'”

Housing Crisis Looms In Shutdown

Shutdown’s pain cuts deep for the homeless and other vulnerable Americans. NYT: “One month after the government shutdown began, its effects have begun to hurt some of the most vulnerable Americans: not just homeless people, but also those who are one crisis away from the streets. And nonprofit groups dedicated to helping low-income renters are already scrambling to survive without the lifeblood payments from HUD that began being cut off on Jan. 1. That has left a small but growing number of tenants, like Ms. Wormley-Mitsis, in limbo. Landlords, especially smaller management companies operating on narrow margins, have begun pressuring poor, disabled and elderly tenants who cannot afford to make up the difference. On Friday afternoon, a TriState Management employee in Newton, Ark., taped notices on the doors of 43 federally subsidized tenants, demanding that they cover the gap between what they typically pay and the full rent. ‘As of Feb. 1, 2019, all tenants will be responsible for full basic rent,’ the letter said. ‘We will extend the due date for the rent to the 20th of the month. This will remain in effect until the government opens up.'”

Social Safety Net Is Unraveling

Some fear federal safety net is unraveling for those in need . AP: “Doris Cochran, a disabled mother of two young boys, is stockpiling canned foods these days, filling her shelves with noodle soup, green beans, peaches and pears — anything that can last for months or even years. Her pantry looks as though she’s preparing for a winter storm. But she’s just trying to make sure her family won’t go hungry if her food stamps run out. For those like Cochran who rely on federal aid programs, the social safety net no longer feels so safe. As the longest government shutdown in U.S. history stretches into a fifth week, millions of poor Americans who depend on food and rental assistance are becoming increasingly worried about the future. Most major aid programs haven’t dried up yet. But each day the stalemate in Washington drags on, the U.S. inches closer to what advocates call a looming emergency. Those dependent on the aid are watching closely under a cloud of stress and anxiety. ‘I just don’t know what’s going to happen,’ Cochran said, ‘and that’s what scares me the most.'”

Unpaid Government Workers Call In Sick

10 percent of TSA workers call in sick as government shutdown drags on. USA Today: “he slowly growing wave of sickouts among TSA workers reached 10 percent as the agency that provides security at the nation’s airports acknowledged ‘many employees are reporting that they are not able to report to work due to financial limitations.’ The Transportation Security Administration said Monday that the rate of unscheduled absences Sunday compared with a 3.1 percent rate on the same day one year ago. The nation’s 800,000 federal employees will miss their second paycheck this week as the government shutdown extends into its second month. About half of those employees, including about 50,000 airport security workers, are considered “essential” and are working anyway. ‘While national average wait times are within normal TSA times of 30 minutes for standard lanes and 10 minutes for TSA Precheck, some airports experienced longer than usual wait times,’ the TSA said in a statement.”

Trump A Dealmaker No More

Trump two years in: The dealmaker who can’t seem to make a deal. WaPo: “Donald Trump was elected president partly by assuring the American people that ‘I alone can fix it.’ But precisely two years into his presidency, the government is not simply broken — it is in crisis, and Trump is grappling with the reality that he cannot fix it alone. The shutdown also has accentuated several fundamental traits of Trump’s presidency: his apparent shortage of empathy, in this case for furloughed workers; his difficulty accepting responsibility, this time for a crisis he had said he would be proud to instigate; his tendency for revenge when it comes to one-upping political foes; and his seeming misunderstanding of Democrats’ motivations. ‘What really drove him was ‘Art of the Deal,’ that he could get stuff done in D.C. and deal with the knuckleheads,’ said Republican strategist Mike Murphy, a sharp Trump critic, referring to Trump’s book on negotiating. ‘People saw him as some sort of business wizard. That’s all disintegrating. It’s like McDonald’s not being able to make a hamburger.'”

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