Statement on the Government Shutdown

January 24, 2019 | Media Mentions, Press Releases

The partial government shutdown is now the longest in history, and families are suffering for it. News reports indicate that communities of color and Native American tribes are being hit particularly hard. Ascend at the Aspen Institute is deeply concerned about the painful impact of the shutdown on the economic security, educational success, and health and wellbeing of families with low incomes across the country.

In the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr., we stress how the actions of those in power affect all of us. In Letter from Birmingham Jail, King says, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.” Stopping the flow of critical resources to American workers and those in need threatens to tear the moral and economic fabric that holds this nation together.

As a policy program of the Aspen Institute with a focus on creating an intergenerational cycle of opportunity for all families, we know that denying families a paycheck and critical services like nutrition and housing assistance will cripple the possibility of achieving and sustaining economic security and educational success. The shutdown is affecting thousands of federal workers’ ability to put food on the table and a roof over their heads – and it will soon snowball to impact the millions of families around the country who rely on government support to get by.

Roughly 800,000 federal employees are not being paid – some of which live paycheck-to-paycheck: half of these workers do not have a college education, and 14 percent make less than $50,000 per year. Additionally, approximately 500,000 contractors are affected – and many may not receive any backpay at all. The American Psychological Association called an end to the shutdown because of the “deleterious effect it is having on the economic security and mental health of federal employees and contractors, as well as their families.”

There have been countless stories already of how the shutdown is hurting families in the U.S. They worry if they can cover the bills and have begun dipping into retirement savings to make ends meet. Native American households experience stubbornly high levels of poverty, yet the shutdown acutely affects this population: Native American tribes who rely on federal funds allocated by treaty rights, and services like public safety and elder healthcare are in jeopardy. Tribal nations engaged in federal contracting have reported an estimated financial loss of $200,000 to $250,000 per day while this impasse continues.

But the impact doesn’t stop there.

The ripple effects beyond the federal workforce are massive: The 38 million families with low incomes in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) may lose access to food and sink into even deeper levels of poverty. Immigration cases could be postponed for years. And if the shutdown extends into February and March, over a million low-income households are at risk of losing critical housing assistance.

This is just the beginning of catastrophe for families in the U.S. Each day that the shutdown continues, the American Dream is receding further from our country’s families. They deserve better.


Anne Mosle and the Ascend team

Related Posts

In episode three of Aspen Ignites: Conversations to Build a Better World, Jenn White leads a conversation on leadership with Anne Mosle and 2018 Ascend Fellow Melvin Carter.
Ascend FellowshipJuly 27, 2023
100 Ascend Fellows will join the Aspen community for two afternoons of conversations aimed at Building Well-Being for Children and Families and Prioritizing Joy and Human Thriving.
Press ReleasesJuly 25, 2023
Ascend at the Aspen Institute is excited to announce the launch of the 2023 Parent-Powered Solutions Fund, which will provide financial resources and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations and institutions focused on increasing postsecondary success among parents.
Aspen Postsecondary Success for ParentsJuly 20, 2023
This Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Week session discussed two-generation (2Gen) strategies to achieving improved outcomes for families.
Ascend NetworkJuly 19, 2023
Cover of the digital chartbook, "We Are Here Too: Who Are the 1 Million Fathers in College?". A student father in a graduation cap and gown is seated with his son and daughter, smiling.
Today, Ascend at the Aspen Institute (Ascend) released the second season of “1 in 5,” its highly rated podcast that explores the multifaceted lives of the one in five college students raising children.
Press ReleasesJune 16, 2023
We’ve selected four projects from the 2021 Class of Fellows that show impressive potential in both their scope and capacity to address timely issues. 
Ascend FellowshipMay 25, 2023
In an Inside Higher Ed article, David Croom and Generation Hope provide important perspective into why the student parent population is important for higher education institutions to prioritize.
Media MentionsMay 9, 2023
In her Anchorage Daily News op-ed , 2022 Ascend Fellow, Jessica Saniġaq Ullrich, shares the importance of preserving Indigenous languages as a way to uphold their Elders' history, way of life, values, and relationships.
Media MentionsMay 8, 2023
Photo of student parent Waukecha Wilkerson with her family at her graduation ceremony.
Today, Ascend at the Aspen Institute (Ascend) released the second season of “1 in 5,” its highly rated podcast that explores the multifaceted lives of the one in five college students raising children.
Press ReleasesMay 3, 2023
In a blog post authored by Trene Hawkins of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Ascend's Managing Director Marjorie Sims shares how Ascend harnesses parent and caregiver leaders’ expertise to create policy and systems change in communities and organizations.
Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation CommunityApril 6, 2023
Today, Ascend at the Aspen Institute (Ascend) released the second season of “1 in 5,” its highly rated podcast that explores the multifaceted lives of the one in five college students raising children.
Press ReleasesMarch 20, 2023
In her Crain’s Detroit Business op-ed , 2022 Ascend Fellow, Leseliey Welch, discuss the importance of maternal health and midwifery care.
Media MentionsFebruary 28, 2023
In an article written by Jason DeParle for The New York Times, 2023 Ascend Parent Advisor, Brittnee Marsaw, shares her personal experiences being born to a teen mother and waiting to start her own family.
Media MentionsJanuary 3, 2023
In her HeraldNet op-ed, 2022 Ascend Fellow, Roxana Norouzi, discusses the important role that powerbuilding from community organizations has in election results.
Media MentionsJanuary 1, 2023
Today, Ascend at the Aspen Institute announced that eight Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) have joined its Black and Native Family Futures Fund.
Press ReleasesDecember 13, 2022