How a government shutdown could impact food assistance, airport workers and National Parks in NC
North Carolinians who rely on food and nutrition benefits could be among the first to feel the effects of a federal government shutdown.
More than 268,000 people in North Carolina are enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). The program provides low-income pregnant and breastfeeding women, along with children up to the age of 5, with healthy food, breastfeeding support and nutrition education.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told NPR that most beneficiaries would run out of assistance within days if the federal government shuts down.
"And that obviously has a long-term impact on the country," he said. "That's why these shutdowns are so devastating, because they are very, very disruptive to the lives of ordinary Americans who count on programs like WIC."
Vilsack added that recipients of SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, could be affected too, but the program would continue as normal through October. A government shutdown could also delay payments to Meals on Wheels, which the organization and the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs warned would severely impact vulnerable older adults.
Elsewhere, about 1,500 TSA agents and air traffic controllers in North Carolina will continue to work, but could be unpaid. Service members at Fort Liberty, Camp Lejeune, and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base could also stop receiving paychecks.
National Parks in the Great Smoky Mountains and along the Outer Banks could close. Skeleton crews will remain onsite at these parks, but most workers will be furloughed, according to the National Parks Conservation Association.
Members of North Carolina's congressional delegation are divided about how to solve the impasse. Democrats in the Senate have proposed a bill to keep the government open, but Republicans, including Sen. Thom Tillis, are opposed to it.
“It makes absolutely no sense for the Senate to waste the rest of this week voting on a spending bill that is dead on arrival in the House. In fact, it guarantees a shutdown," Tillis said in a statement. "I will only vote for a bill viable in both chambers that will prevent a shutdown, which is why I would vote against the Schumer bill in its current form."
Charlotte Democratic Congressman Jeff Jackson said conservative Republicans are pushing for shutdown because it will draw attention to themselves.
"The number one thing they want is a shutdown, because a shutdown comes with a ton of media attention for them," he said in a video posted to social media.
Congressman Dan Bishop, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, is one of the loudest voices in favor of a shutdown.
"We need to break through the Swamp fever and do something real," he said on X, formerly known as Twitter.