Despite all of the clamor coming from politicians about the end-of-the-world scenario called the “government shutdown” — the State Department confirmed that there’s enough money lying around for foreign aid to continue as usual.
Just before the shutdown last week, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said, “we’re able to sustain our [USAID] operations on a limited basis, the vast majority of normal functions and operations will continue.”
The Inter Press Service news agency reports:
“For the moment, U.S. officials have been quick to offer assurances that most U.S.-assisted development programming would not be affected by the shutdown, which formally began at midnight Monday night. But the complexity of U.S. federal programmes and their varying budgetary schedules means that it is impossible to offer an overarching analysis of the ramifications for USAID, the government’s main foreign aid arm.”
While the U.S. government is prohibited from engaging in new contributions to foreign nations or from intervening in any new international emergencies during the shutdown, existing foreign aid contributions will be serviced.
Even with such assurance, some are worried that USAID will cease if the shutdown persists. IPS reports that Rev. John L. McCullough of Church World Services is concerned that “hungry people relying on U.S. aid will not receive food, and children will not receive inoculations against disease” under shutdown conditions.
Like domestic welfare, international welfare programs have to be paid for. And what happens when the money stops? Is furnishing the world with federal aid really a benefit to the foreign poor if they become addicted to it like a drug and don’t learn to absorb their own troubles without U.S. intervention? The world’s poor need to aid, yes, but is such the task of the United States Government?