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GOP fiddles while Trump shutdown mess grows more dire by the day

In case you missed it, be sure to check out a story posted Wednesday at NC Health News by former Policy Watch investigative reporter Sarah Ovaska. In “Federal shutdown starting to leave mark in NC,” Ovaska details the growing crisis that Donald Trump’s border wall shutdown is is causing for average people in North Carolina like U.S. Department of Agriculture employee Rochelle Poe. Here’s an excerpt:

Four weeks into the federal government shutdown, Rochelle Poe is distraught, unable to pay the January rent for her Raleigh townhome and facing possible eviction.

Poe, a 20-year employee and mortgage underwriter for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, says the threat of eviction over her $1,092 overdue rent has made it difficult to sleep or eat. She’s tried selling belongings, taking purses to a consignment shop and listing a new TV on Facebook’s Marketplace. Friends have chipped in money for groceries and gas.

“We want to go back work,” Poe said, about herself and fellow federal workers. “We’re not looking for a handout or anything, we just want to go back to our jobs so we can pay our bills.”

Also frustrating, she said, is a lack of collective anger from the public over the shutdown, with a fraction of the nation’s workforce affected.

“There’s no real outrage about the fact that we are going without,” Poe said.

Word came Wednesday, the same day her landlord said eviction proceedings would start, that a friend could loan Poe the rent money. It brought obvious relief but still leaves Poe with little to live on while she waits to find out when she can start working again.

“I was able to sleep last night for the first time in weeks,” Poe said.

Ovaska’s story goes on to detail several other troubling shutdown-related developments, including in the vital areas of housing and hunger assistance for people in need. The story notes that Orange County officials have started to advise potential new applicants for SNAP food assistance benefits that they likely will not be able to sign up as a result of the shutdown.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell continues to do nothing to address the growing crisis. Indeed, as Think Progress journalist Amanda Michelle Gomez reported yesterday, McConnell has instead decided to devote the Senate’s attention to things like the consideration of destructive and impossible-to-pass anti-abortion legislation.

In the midst of the longest-ever government shutdown in U.S. history, Senate Republicans have instead decided to consider a bill on Thursday to codify existing restrictions that make it harder for low-income people to get abortions….

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has repeatedly blocked House-passed packages to fund the federal government, as they did not include funding for a border wall. Trump is currently trying to get $5 billion in funding for a border wall that he previously insisted Mexico would pay for. McConnell has refused to bring any bill to the Senate floor that the president does not support, saying the Senate will not “participate in something that doesn’t lead to an outcome.”

The bill now under consideration aims to permanently ban federal funding for abortion care also has zero chance of passing Congress, but that didn’t stop McConnell from filing cloture on the motion to proceed on Wednesday. In the history of Congress, there are more House members than ever before looking to restore federal funding for abortion services, according to a ThinkProgress analysis.

McConnell has done virtually everything — including argue about Israel — but allow a vote to reopen the federal government.

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