By Alex Ripepi
Senior Staff Writer
With the partial government shutdown underway, although talks are in order to end it, the misguided priorities of the federal government have been brought to light.
Much of the issue with the government shutdown has been the lack of information disseminated about it. The public has had only the filtered and carefully worded stories by news networks that can’t possibly cover every aspect of the halt of the budget and its effects. Unless the average person were to watch C-Span, which is a daunting task even for those interested in politics, a cut and dry explanation (sans bias) of the shutdown is hard to find.
Certain areas of the government that were deemed ‘unnecessary’ seem pretty vital, though. For example, the Centers for Disease Control was put on hold in ‘a vast majority’ of its operations just before flu season. The change in funding didn’t mean that a vaccine was unobtainable, but for those in particularly sensitive groups, (pregnant women, the elderly, etc.) a new vaccine could not be developed. The issue of public health being put to the wayside doesn’t end here, though. The CDC did release a statement urging the public to still get what vaccines are available.
The Food and Drug Administration had funding cut so severely that meat is the only product being checked and approved at this time. The extent of the cut appeared to have affected the process though; the Los Angeles Times reported that three Foster Farms poultry plants in California have distributed salmonella contaminated chicken around the nation, sickening over 200. According to a report by the CDC, the outbreak resulted in more than 42% of the affected being hospitalized. Hopefully, in the future, these occurrences will be recalled when budget talks are on the line.
Financial aid has been impacted in multiple areas. For those receiving federal aid under the GI Bill, until the shutdown is over, the coffers won’t be filled. In addition, other college students won’t be able to have any grants or loans awarded or approved until the shutdown is over. Directly impacting the next workforce generation (who will have the burden of paying the resulting costs of this shutdown in addition to normal taxes) in a way that could prevent them from getting jobs was part of the package when the shutdown went into effect.
However, the prioritization isn’t all about odd choices of what was deemed unnecessary. For one, the Congressional gym, which supplies a membership for each Senator and House Representative, will remain open. According to a statement by a House aide, the gym is rather lavish, featuring a sauna, steam rooms, a swimming pool, and flat screen TVs.
So if you’ve felt particularly affected by the shutdown, just remember that it isn’t really about you, and that Congress members still have their gym, if it’s any consolation.