The Richmond Register

State News

October 16, 2013

Beshear: Shutdown ‘devastating to Kentucky families’



But after the Republican House of Representatives failed in several attempts to craft an acceptable compromise, McConnell and Reid negotiated a last-minute deal which was scheduled for votes late Wednesday to re-open the government and extend the federal debt limit to avoid a national default on Thursday.

Beshear said too many “of our congressional representatives are still posturing and pontificating through another day of negotiations” in the 16th day of the shutdown. “Too many of our leaders in Washington are too insulated from the lives of real families that they don’t understand the urgency of the moment.”

“They’ve lost track of the people they serve,” Beshear continued. “Its repercussions involve suffering, frustration and despair.”

He said despite the hopeful signs of a deal Wednesday, publicly disclosed details indicate it “just kicks the can down the road,” funding the government until mid-January and extending the debt limit until Feb. 7.

“We could well be in the exact same spot in three months, when the deadlines roll around, as we are right now,” Beshear said, adding the people of Kentucky and their Washington representatives “need to understand the impact (of a shutdown) on the people of this state.”

He said roughly $8 billion in federal aid comes to Kentucky each year, and about 85 percent of that is affected by the shutdown. While such benefits as Medicaid and unemployment insurance aren’t affected, programs like SNAP — the food stamp program — nutritional services for pregnant mothers and young children serving 130,000 Kentucky residents and payment assistance for low-income families’ utility bills are all at stake.

About 854,000 Kentucky residents receive food stamp assistance, about one in five residents. SNAP enables “them to have food to eat. A lot of our friends and neighbors — and their children — could go hungry. That’s not alarmist, it’s heartbreaking and it’s unconscionable. In a nation of plenty, in the wealthiest nation in the world, this should not happen,” Beshear said.

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