How a government shutdown would affect the Quad Cities

How a government shutdown would affect the Quad Cities
Published: Oct. 2, 2023 at 12:03 AM CDT

DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - U.S. lawmakers averted a government shutdown Saturday night by passing a temporary spending bill to fund the federal government through Nov. 17.

The continuing resolution passed with 335 votes in the House and 88 votes in the Senate, but a full spending package will still need to be passed to avoid a shutdown in six weeks.

Tim Hagle is a political science professor at the University of Iowa. He offers insight as to why lawmakers are struggling to pass a spending package on time. He says compromise among lawmakers is difficult when both chambers are closely divided while each chamber is controlled by a different party.

Hagle believes local farmers could be particularly vulnerable if the government were to shutdown because some farmers rely on federal payments to help them pay for important machinery.

“If for some reason the bank doesn’t want to be flexible, that can be a real hurt for a lot of farmers,” said Hagle, “if they’re missing their payments and then have trouble getting their crop to market or whatever it happens to be.”

Another program that could be impacted would be The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) which provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income mothers and children.

Janet Hill, with the Rock Island Health Department, says the program has enough funding to withstand a brief shutdown.

“We went through [a government shutdown] in 2018,” said Hill, “and there was enough money to keep us through and WIC remained open. However, WIC participation is up significantly, so there isn’t as much of a cushion as there was back in 2018.”

Bill Polley, an economist with the Quad Cities Chamber, points out that there are several businesses in the local area that rely on federal contracts, which could be significantly impacted by a prolonged government shutdown.

“Most federal contracts are defense-related,” said Polley, “it’s the largest single area of the of the government, and certainly in the Quad Cities area, especially with the Rock Island Arsenal being here. You have a lot of connections in the area to local manufacturers of all kinds.”

Polley also added some reassurance about how significant a government shutdown would be for the Quad Cities area.

“Significant to the people who are affected,” said Polley, “but noticeable to the entire Quad Cities’ economy? Not very.”

Lawmakers will need to reconcile their differences on funding for Ukraine’s war with Russia and U.S. border security if they hope to avoid a government shutdown heading into this holiday season.