Former congressman explains what a government shutdown would mean

02/25/2011 06:27 PM

While a government shutdown wouldn’t halt Americans’ Social Security or Medicare payments, some key services will be affected and uncertainty of state and federal agency budgets will cause a ripple effect, a former congressman said.

Mike Ward, a Democrat who represented the Louisville area in Congress, served in Washington during the last government shutdown in late 1995 and early 1996.

“People’s Social Security checks aren’t going to be docked,” Ward said on Pure Politics Friday. “But it’s going to be a big deal come March 4.”

Other government agencies, such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development, did all but shutter their doors during a shutdown.

“But it didn’t ruin things for them or all those families for all time,” he said.

The continuing resolution on federal spending that Congress approved as a temporary fix last year expires Friday March 4. The House Republican majority has suggested a budget with $61 billion in cuts. They also are proposing a month-long temporary extension that would include $2 billion in cuts. So far, the Senate Democratic majority has balked at accepting those proposals.

Ward offered his assessment of what the Republican-led House and Democratic-controlled Senate could do next week to come to an agreement:

Ward, a former state representative, was elected in 1994 and replaced longtime Democratic Congressman Romano Mazzoli. Ward lost re-election in 1996 to Republican Anne Northup.

Then-President Bill Clinton appointed Ward as associate director of the Peace Corps, and Ward later hosted a radio program in Louisville. He now works for Avakian Consulting.

- Ryan Alessi


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