Government shutdown looming: important programs from FEMA to SNAP threatened

NEW YORK – As the federal government shutdown approaches, many residents of New York and New Jersey are expressing concerns about what this could mean regarding access to FEMA disaster assistance, SNAP food benefits and more.

Congress has until 11:59 p.m. Thursday to come to an agreement on government spending that would avoid a shutdown.

In the meantime, people like Edwin Ortiz, a resident of Queens, are focused on continuing recovery efforts after historic flooding and storm damage in Ida.

“We have lost everything, everything, everything,” he said.

The entire Ortiz basement apartment was flooded during the storm.

He was one of many residents of the disaster recovery center set up at Queens College – just the start of a process to seek assistance from FEMA.

“We have to wait, I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said.

It is an expectation that may become linked to the battle over funding from the federal government, including money for hurricane relief.

If the funding is not passed by Thursday, a government shutdown would make it more difficult to administer FEMA aid to the flood-affected tri-state region.

Already-backed immigration courts would close again, as they did at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Air travel reportedly continues, but workers may not be paid, which could lead to mass appeals – a possible repeat of what happened during the last shutdown just over two years ago.

Other vital government programs such as SNAP food aid benefits could be at risk if the shutdown is prolonged.

All this as Republicans and Democrats continued to point fingers on Tuesday.

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