Twenty-six days into the partial government shutdown prompted by disagreements in funding a border wall, furloughed and unpaid federal workers are nearing breaking points.
But it’s about to get much more interesting as Americans who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), i.e. Food Stamps, will soon have their EBT accounts at a zero balance.
Administrators of the SNAP program gamed the system in January by pushing February payments into EBT accounts early with a post to “budget wisely” as they don’t anticipate the program being funded past January. Over $6 billion dollars were transferred into EBT accounts early.
For those food stamp recipients who do not budget wisely in January, by February, they’ll be hitting up food banks around the nation.
In the meantime, federal workers on furlough are applying for unemployment benefits and food stamps. While the SNAP program will be unfunded past January, states around the country are easing unemployment filing restrictions to cover unpaid federal workers.
Those federal works will receive back pay when the shutdown is over and in most cases, will have to repay unemployment benefits to their state.
For federal workers in the Washington D.C. Metro area, the unemployment assistance gets a bit dicey due to the tri-government area. For instance, workers who live in Virginia but work in D.C. must file for unemployment in D.C. – which is not known for its quick customer service.
For those workers who are able to morass of D.C. public service, they will receive a slight bump in their weekly payments. The maximum weekly unemployment benefits in Virginia is $378 while in D.C. the weekly amount is $425.
The average rent of a one-bedroom apartment in Northern Virginia runs $1,152 a month — $266 a week.
A mortgage payment on an average home in the area runs $1,800 (VA) to $2,000 (D.C.) per month.
With unemployment amounts being impossible to cover household expenses and SNAP going unfunded, both federal workers and food stamp recipients will be headed into panic situations within the next 15 days.
President Trump and Speaker Pelosi are both entrenched and can’t afford the political hit of being the first to blink in this standoff.
But President Trump has the advantage as the longer the shutdown continues, the more the nation takes notice of the unnecessary functions that most government agencies undertake.
As far as the impact on the rest of the nation, the stock market has stabilized during the shutdown period while volunteer groups have taken up the tasks of national park cleanups and would likely do more if asked.
Federal employees on the other hand have taken to Facebook groups to share low-cost food recipes, tips on filing for unemployment and food stamps, along with weak calls to march and protest.