The impact of the federal shutdown on local communities such as Barrington seems like much ado about nothing today, even though people are talking about it. Longer term may be a different story.
“We’ve already received an email that said routine administrative services for federal grants will not take place,” said Barrington Finance Director Dean Huff. “But we still will get federal money in the short term.”
The BAY Team, which is supported in part by a federal grant, is expected to continue to receive its funds, he said. But that could change in a few weeks if the federal shutdown continues.
“But there is very little impact at our level at this time,” Huff said. “There are always lags, though. If this continues for a period of weeks, then we might start seeing some impact.”
Susan Schenck, the chief operating officer for East Bay Community Action Program, based in Riverside, said: “There is no impact on EBCAP operations in the foreseeable future due to the government shutdown.”
EBCAP provides a variety of social services with federal support all over the East Bay, including Barrington.
Schenck said she was quoting Dennis Roy, the CEO of EBCAP, who is in Washington for a Head Start conference.
Fred Sneesby, public information officer for the RI Department of Human Services, which administers the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) or food stamp program, said: “There is no immediate effect. People will get their October benefits. In fact, I think they go out today.”
That situation could change if the shutdown is longer term – more than three weeks. More than 180,000 Rhode Islanders get food stamps, including 451 in Barrington.
“The Agriculture Department would have to revisit the program at that point and make a decision about what it could do for November,” Sneesby said.
Several Starbucks' customers also did not seem too concerned about the federal shutdown. Each one said they believe the stalemate in Congress will end within a few days with a temporary spending bill or some compromise over "Obamacare," which is driving the statemate.
“I don’t believe the last one went more than a few days,” said Ted Nickerson, referring to the shutdown in 1995 and early 1996, when disagreements between President Clinton and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich over education, the environment, Medicare and public health triggered the shutdown.
For the record, the first shutdown lasted about five days in November of 1995; the second shutdown lasted about three weeks in December and early January of 1996 before Clinton and the Republican-controlled Congress finally reached agreement on a federal spending plan.