Shutdown puts aid and grants at risk


Lindsay Freed, Senior Staff Writer

UVM will feel the impact of the federal government shutdown if it is not resolved within the next few days.

The shutdown began at midnight Jan. 20 after the U.S. Senate was unable to pass a short-term spending bill, said Wendy Koenig, UVM director of federal and state relations.

This means federal agencies and functions will be closed until new budget legislation can be passed, Koenig said.

“There is never a good time for a shutdown, but this isn’t the worst time,” she said. “Most student aid has already been received.”

The two main areas that could be affected by the shutdown are financial aid and research, Koenig stated in a Jan. 20 email to the UVM community.

In addition, alloted research grants are distributed automatically, Koenig said.

There is greater concern if the shutdown lasts for a longer period of time, which could then affect applications for new loans and grants, Koenig said.

“There are contingencies for if that happens, but we’re hopeful the work happening [in Washington] over the weekend will make the shutdown short-lived,” she said.

SGA President Chris Petrillo said there are no benefits to the University from the federal government’s inaction.

“Students should not have to worry about government dysfunction during their studies,” he said. “It is disheartening to see the federal government setting an example of gridlock.”

Petrillo said that UVM still has a functioning government in the SGA.

The SGA will continue operations to support the wellbeing of the UVM community, he said.

Essential personnel — the heads of federal departments and agencies and their immediate support staffs — will remain working through the shutdown, Koenig said.

UVM employees will continue to work through the shutdown.

The House of Representatives initially passed a short-term spending bill, which would have continued funding the government until a later date, according to a Jan. 20 Washington Post article.

The Senate was unable to compromise on immigration spending in their version of the legislation, according to the Jan. 20 Congressional Record.

“I am very disappointed that the Republicans chose to shutdown the government,” Bernie Sanders’ office stated in a Jan. 21 email to the Cynic.

Sanders stated that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, insisted on going forward with the resolution rather than negotiating a serious agreement with the Democrats and Republicans that opposed him.

“I hope, based on this vote, that [McConnell] now changes his mind and begins to negotiate seriously,” Sanders stated. “We must reopen the government as soon as possible.”

The Senate is scheduled to vote on the resolution at noon Jan. 22, according to the Washington Post.

The last government shutdown was in October 2013, when Republican leaders sought to rollback provisions of the Affordable Care Act, according to a Jan. 19 New York Times article.

The 2013 shutdown lasted for 16 days, according to the article.