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Schumer warns that NYC residents will soon feel pain of government shutdown

January 7, 2019 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The MTA can hold out for four to six more weeks before painful cuts will have to be made, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer said on Sunday. The senator was talking about the effect of the ongoing partial federal shutdown on everyday New Yorkers. AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

The economy of New York is under threat, and everyday New York City residents will soon begin to feel the pain from the partial government shutdown, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer said on Sunday.

After meeting with President Donald Trump last week, Schumer said the president told him the shutdown, which Schumer calls “needless,” could last months or even years.

“Sometimes, when we talk about the Big Picture — what’s happening at the national level with cabinet departments and federal agencies and furloughs and funding levels — you might not realize that this Trump shutdown is affecting all sorts of everyday folks here in New York,” Schumer said in a statement.

He listed numerous areas where the shutdown is primed to hit locals where they live. These include subway and bus service, area airports and tax refunds, among others.

The already limping MTA can hold out for four to six more weeks without its monthly $130-$170 million in reimbursements from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), but cuts will likely have to be made after that, Schumer warned. Federal funds are used for track repair work and construction, affecting almost every line.

Travelers flying to their destinations also face risks as Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents have been furloughed and are working without pay.

Airport agents are already spread thin, Schumer said. More TSA workers are calling in sick than usual, according to numerous news reports. Hundreds of travelers were stuck on endless lines inside the Delta Airlines terminal at LaGuardia Airport on Sunday afternoon as a handful of airport employees tried to manage the situation, ABC News reported.

More than 41,000 law enforcement and correctional officers and as many as 88 percent of Department of Homeland Security employees are currently working without pay, Schumer said, jeopardizing residents’ safety in a variety of ways.

Hitting New Yorkers financially, millions of residents will fail to see their tax refund checks processed if the shutdown continues, Schumer said. In Fiscal Year 2017, 16 million New Yorkers received $27 billion in tax refunds. Last year, by Feb. 2, the IRS had already paid out $12.6 billion in refunds to 6 million people.

In New York City, 1.5 million people receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, also known as food stamps, 

These benefits will be jeopardized if the shutdown goes beyond February, Schumer said. Across the state, an additional 400,000 mothers and families rely on the health care intervention program WIC (Women, Infants and Children). Thousands will also lose rental assistance payments.

Thousands of home loans are on hold, dashing home ownership dreams and local economies. New home loans are not being processed at all, and “loans in queue are at major slowdowns,” Schumer said. In 2018, 28,900 FHA loans were made in New York.

The ongoing U.S. Census has also been suspended. Schumer points out that this jeopardizes “the socio-economic estimates of New York City, which are needed to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars annually in federal assistance to state and local governments for all kinds of things from housing to transportation.”

In addition, almost all National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) employees have been furloughed. “The NTSB sends inspectors to New York any time there is a terrible accident on our roads or railways. Only 27 of their 401 employees are not furloughed,” Schumer said.

Other cuts impacting city residents include the FDA, which safeguards food and medicine, school lunch programs and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Across the U.S., 450,000 people are currently working without pay, and another 380,000 workers are furloughed. Many of these federal workers are in New York — more than 50,000 — and more than 16,000 of them work in departments or agencies that are currently shut down.

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