Government shutdown threatens to hit Georgians hard

Published 2:27 pm Thursday, September 28, 2023

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Staff Reports

By Dave Williams
Bureau Chief
Capitol Beat News Service
ATLANTA – With the federal government barreling toward a shutdown later this week, Georgia Democrats are warning of lost paychecks for service members and federal civilian employees, interrupted Social Security and welfare benefits, and closed national parks.

While the U.S. Senate is moving forward with debate on a bipartisan stopgap funding bill aimed at keeping the government open after the end of the federal fiscal year at midnight Saturday, a small group of far-right House Republicans is blocking attempts by Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to get a floor vote on a short-term spending bill.

The group of GOP holdouts includes two Georgia Republicans: U.S. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Rome and Andrew Clyde of Athens.

If the government shuts down at midnight Saturday, nearly 64,000 Georgia service members could be forced to work without pay, according to a news release from the Democratic Party of Georgia. More than 167,000 Georgians who are federal civilian employees in jobs considered essential also may have to work without being paid.

Georgia seniors could see a delay in Social Security checks, while more than 220,000 low-income Georgia mothers, infants and older children could lose monthly food benefits.

“It’s shameful that while Georgia Democrats are working in lockstep to deliver for Georgia families, Georgia Republicans … are risking Georgians’ livelihoods with a devastating government shutdown in pursuit of their extreme agenda,” Georgia Democratic Party spokesperson Ellie Schwartz said this week.

“Republicans are forcing families to brace for two extremes: a government shutdown that would devastate Georgians or extreme cuts that would raise costs and slash funding for child care, schools, veteran services and more.”

For their part, the Republican holdouts are looking to use the budget impasse as leverage to force spending cuts upon reluctant Democrats and push other priorities.

For Greene, it’s cutting off further U.S. funding for Ukraine. President Joe Biden is seeking another $24 billion in additional security and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

“For weeks, I’ve been asking for Ukraine funding to be a standalone vote, not cash hidden inside of other bills. For a moment, it seemed like that would happen. But it didn’t,” Greene said this week in a statement aimed at her Northwest Georgia constituents.

“This means billions of your hard-earned money will be at the disposal of Joe Biden, his State Department, and his [Defense Department] to be spent on his proxy war against Russia.”

Congressional Democrats and some Republicans argue Ukraine must prevail in its war against Russia or Russian President Vladimir Putin will set his sights next on one or more NATO countries, forcing the U.S. to commit American ground troops.

Clyde has pushed for eliminating all federal funding for the prosecutors who have obtained indictments charging former President and 2024 Republican frontrunner Donald Trump with attempting to interfere with the results of the 2020 presidential election.

“These bogus charges are undoubtedly intended to smear and take down President Trump, as well as hinder his ability to campaign effectively,” Clyde said late last month. “This overt election interference continues to undermine both our republic and our fair system of justice.”

Democrats and Republicans not committed to Trump say the former president must be held accountable for his efforts to subvert the U.S. Constitution by defying the will of the majority of American voters who supported Biden in 2020.

Other GOP holdouts are objecting to the budget process itself, the perennial 11th-hour scramble in Congress to pass a single omnibus bill each year that covers the vast majority of spending, rather than the more orderly system of taking up the 12 annual appropriations bills that fund federal agencies one at a time.

But Democrats say such qualms aren’t worth shutting down the government.

“Make no mistake: If the government shuts down, leaving thousands of Georgians without the paychecks or services they rely on … Republicans will be squarely to blame,” Schwartz said.