US Capitol Buildings
US lawmakers have until midnight of September 30 to reach an agreement averting a government shutdown AFP

Every year as October approaches, the shadow of a federal government shutdown looms over Washington. Before October 1, Congress must pass a new bill to fund the government.

And it is at this point that the tug-of-war between Republicans and Democrats triggers a blame game that consists of accusing each other for shutting down the federal government.

The allocation of budget items and their amounts is a point where everyone fights for the biggest slice according to the needs of their state or the importance of the issue, which varies as much as there are points of view on each issue and according to the position that each political group has taken on it.

For example, one of the most contentious issues among lawmakers this year, and one that has prevented consensus, is military aid to Ukraine.

The administration has pushed for approval of a war aid package, but a radical group of Republican senators oppose it.

This year, Latino Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fl) initially prioritized The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) budget over military aid to Ukraine, but has softened his stance, acknowledging that it would be difficult to get the 60 votes needed to pass the budget if the aid package for the war against Russia is untied.

US Senator Marco Rubio
US Senator Marco Rubio speaking 2 years ago Andrew Harnik/POOL

Failure to reach a consensus among lawmakers after October 1 and failure to pass an extension will result in a shutdown of the federal government.

This means that a large percentage of federal employees will be sent home without pay. Agencies such as airports, national parks, and many government offices will begin a period of slowed service or even operations closing.

The last central government shutdown was recorded during former President Donald Trump's administration, an episode that lasted 35 days between December 2018 and January 2019.

Many social assistance programs will be suspended, which will have a significant impact on the low-income Latino community. Nutrition benefits provided to 7 million mothers through the Women, Infants and Children program would be cut within days, according to US Department of Agriculture. As stated by the White House, 10,000 children from low-income families would lose access to the Head Start preschool program.

A government shutdown could "severely curtail" aid to schools, universities and other educational institutions, the department says. It could also delay funds that are due to be awarded later in the year.

Latino workers will be directly impacted, of the nearly 4.5 million federal employees, about 9.5% are Hispanic, which translates to roughly 200,000 Latino households affected.

Indirectly, federal contractors working on government projects could be affected because they would not be compensated for lost time.

The issue is so sensitive to the community that President Joe Biden addressed it at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's famous gala in Washington last week. "I've requested more funding. But instead of stepping up with solutions, Republicans are threatening to shut down the government". Said Biden.

During the five-week partial shutdown in 2019, the Congressional Budget Office estimated about $11 billion in lost economic activity and said $3 billion of that would not be recovered.

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