Congressman Dave Loebsack today voted in favor of the Agriculture Appropriations Bill. This legislation funds the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) along with the SNAP food assistance program. This bill is virtually identical to the bill that passed the Senate last year by a vote of 92-6. It now heads back to the Senate for its consideration.
“One of the federal agencies that Iowans rely upon the most is USDA, which processes loans, makes payments and provides other essential services to Iowans who live and work in our rural communities. Many of these farmers, who are already suffering from the tariffs imposed by the Trump administration, now have additional hurdles to jump through,” said Loebsack. “Additionally, not just farmers are being affected. Thousands of Iowans are employed by the federal government who, through no fault of their own, are currently working without being paid or have been furloughed. We must reopen the government and get these folks back to work so they can earn the pay check they need and deserve. While the President and Republicans play politics, it is time to reopen the parts of our government that have nothing to do with securing the border.”
Dave received the following from a federal employee from Mahaska County about the impact the shutdown is having on her family:
“I am a furloughed federal employee. I filed for unemployment last week, but it will be a while before my claim is processed. Since no one in HR is working, there isn’t anyone to verify my employment status. Our savings are depleted due to medical bills related to [my husband’s] cancer. He is on disability. I looked into getting a part time job, but my agency requires pre-approval to do so, thus another dead end. In the meantime, we are racking up late fees and our credit rating is taking a hit. The mortgage company doesn’t care that I love my job and I am holding on to it with the hope that someone in Washington will do their job so I can do mine. Ironically, our two great kids are working but neither of their parents are. So, to those that ask, No, I am not enjoying "my time off." I post this not to complain or to gain sympathy, but to raise awareness that the government shutdown is hitting local families in this community.”
This coming Friday, January 11th, will mark the first missed paycheck for many of the federal employees who are part of the shutdown.
Because of the shutdown, some important activities funded in the Agriculture bill have ended. In addition to the threat to SNAP benefits, the shutdown has also led to other serious impacts:
• Cutting Off Services for Farmers. As producers are beginning to make their plans for next year’s planting season, the Department of Agriculture has closed Farm Service county offices across the country and stopped providing assistance to farmers already hit hard by the Trump trade war.
• Risking Public Health. The Food and Drug Administration cannot accept any regulatory submissions and cannot support many routine regulatory and compliance activities. This includes some medical product, animal drug, and most food-related activities. The FDA also cannot conduct routine establishment inspections, which could prevent the finding and correction of violations, especially for food safety.
I want to serve my constituents in any way I can. Whether you need help with a federal agency, are trying to find out if federal grants are available for your project, or are considering applying to a service academy. I hope all the information in this section will be helpful.