SAN ANTONIO – As the government shutdown deadline approaches, there is growing concern about the financial uncertainty service members and their families could face, and it remains to be seen whether Congress can come to an agreement and avert this potential crisis.
Jon Taylor, a UTSA professor of political science, said the federal government operates from a fiscal budget from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30 of the following year.
Federal law requires Congress to pass and submit a budget to the president before this month’s end. Taylor said a stalemate, primarily among Republicans, has delayed the process, potentially leading to a shutdown.
“And this group of about 20 or so Republicans has been really intransigent -- including (Rep.) Chip Roy from San Antonio, Austin area -- who have been opposed to any sort of budget compromises with the Democrats and who are willing basically to shut the government down for a time,” Taylor said.
Taylor said the federal government won’t completely shut down, but non-essential and essential services could be impacted, leading to a ripple effect.
“Particularly if you’re getting SNAP or other social safety net benefits -- Medicare, Medicaid -- it could even, over time, affect pay for our military. It may take a week or two to get there, but it may eventually have a ripple effect,” Taylor said. “It could also impact border security, border safety, immigration, passports, a variety of things that we tend not to think of and, over time, even potentially delivery of the mail.”
Taylor said a shutdown could go on for as little as just a few hours, days or weeks. In 2018-2019, the longest government shutdown in U.S. history lasted as long as 34 days.
“Then we have a real problem because now we’re talking about weeks, and this is San Antonio. Let’s think about our armed forces personnel living here in San Antonio,” said Taylor.
It would affect our military personnel who have to pay rent and mortgages and put food on the table for their families, many of whom are already experiencing food insecurity.
“Now you’re talking about the stress that it puts on, not just the state and local safety net but also on nonprofits and non-government services to try to assist people who might be facing this,” said Taylor.
Those nonprofit services include the San Antonio Food Bank, whose leaders say they’ve already been meeting for weeks on this topic.
Michael Guerra, chief sustainability officer for the San Antonio Food Bank, says they’ve been preparing their messaging on their website and their health teams and thinking about people who lend their help and the people who need the help.
“We’re hearing estimates from 100,000 to 175,000 people that could be at risk financially, and that’s from an employer. What that means is if you took the percentage of people that are food insecure, that might be another 20,000 individuals,” Guerra said. “Now, we potentially could be seeing that in the San Antonio Food Bank lines needing support from all parts of our work.”
The San Antonio Food Bank is currently working on a $1.7 million fundraising goal for October in efforts of a hunger-free November for our elderly.
Guerra said they must add effort to their hunger-free November campaign for seniors and look out for our service members with a possible government shutdown.
“We’re going to push head-on until we have a hunger-free November for seniors and just trusting our community that if there is a government shutdown, that the incredible generosity of this community will come through, that they’ll come through financially, come through as volunteers and with food in a way that we’ve seen them do time and time again from the pandemic and otherwise,” said Guerra.
Joint Base San Antonio spokesperson Angelina Casarez issued the following statement:
“We are currently evaluating the impacts a government shutdown would have at Joint Base San Antonio, but we will not speculate on the situation. We will share information via JBSA.mil and on our social media platforms. Due to operational security, we will not provide personnel details.”
Congress has until Oct. 1 to reach a budget resolution.