‘Planned by House Republicans’; Mississippi’s lone Democrat in Congress rails against looming government shutdown

Published: Sep. 29, 2023 at 6:44 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Democratic U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson slammed House Republicans Friday on the eve of a government shutdown, claiming the looming crisis was planned by them.

“Instead of rolling up their sleeves and finding ways to help American families, House Republicans are busy cutting funds to crucial programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Title 1. This shutdown isn’t just unnecessary; it’s harmful, and communities everywhere will feel the impact,” Thompson said in a statement.

Thompson voted against a stopgap measure Friday intended to fund the federal government for 30 days, a measure so divisive that 21 hardline Republicans sided with House Democrats to kill the bill.

U.S. Rep. Michael Guest and two other members of the state’s delegation - Trent Kelly and Mike Ezell - voted for the measure House Speaker Kevin McCarthy presented.

“At this stage is not a matter of if the government will shut down but how long that shutdown will last?” Guest said.

Republican Congressman Michael Guest says it could be days or even weeks before the shutdown showdown between Democrats and Republicans is resolved.

In a statement, U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith said nothing good comes from federal government shutdowns, but declined to offer specifics on how she will help resolve the issue.

“My Senate colleagues and I must continue to find ways to work to fund the government and ensure our nation is safe and secure. As a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, I am committed to good stewardship of taxpayer dollars and will continue working to ensure that spending decisions are made in the best interest of Mississippi and our nation,” Hyde-Smith said.

Once the government shutdown begins, paychecks to Mississippi’s 18,000-plus federal employees will stop, too, including TSA agents, air traffic controllers, and active duty military personnel.

“Most government work workers are paid on a monthly basis. And so most government workers will not feel any financial crunch until the end of October, October 31st. And so that gives both sides. House and Senate Republicans and Democrats have an opportunity to work out their differences,” Guest said.

Guest said government programs like SNAP and Social Security are excluded from the shutdown, meaning they won’t be affected.

Thompson said the opposite in his statement, claiming nearly 400,000 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program beneficiaries in Mississippi would lose access to their benefits in a prolonged shutdown.

Those who utilize the Women, Infants and Children Program, or WIC, could also be at risk, Thompson said.

The state’s department of health said WIC will be fully operational, but couldn’t promise the program would continue to be funded if the shutdown lasted a significant amount of time.

“We will continue to have full operations after Saturday, even without congressional action on this impending or threatening government shutdown. This includes operations at WIC clinics, and servers at WIC, authorized markets over our vendors, if you will. The USDA, you know, who funds us does have plans to allocate additional funding if needed to to cover us over this particular time,” said Victor Sutton, chief for community health and clinical services at MSDH.

“Communities and families who have been devastated by the many tornadoes that have ripped through our state will experience additional delays for housing and basic resources due to the proposed shutdown,” Thompson said, telling constituents their loans to small businesses, farms, and homes won’t be approved until after the government is fully funded again.

Guest said he believes most Mississippians will not be negatively impacted.

“If this were to go into several weeks, or into the end of October, I think that that’s when you would see more Mississippians directly impacted by the shutdown of the federal government,” Guest said.

Want more WLBT news in your inbox? Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Please click here to report it and include the headline of the story in your email.