King County brass: Federal shutdown puts local women and children at risk

With no clear end in sight to the federal government shutdown, King County elected officials took to their podium on Oct. 9 at the Public Health Center in White Center to vent about the problems caused here at home, including a loss of support for women and children.

Executive Dow Constantine’s office said he was forced to send advance layoff notices to 82 county employees “who provide essential nutrition services for women, infants and children, as a consequence of the continuing federal shutdown.”

The program at risk is known as WIC (Women, Infants and Children), and USDA funding is set to run out on Oct. 31. WIC historically helps 38,000 women and children “eat well, learn about nutrition and stay healthy” with services like health screenings and critical items like baby formula, according to the county.

“This self-inflicted, manufactured crisis will interrupt essential nutrition services for 38,000 pregnant women, new mothers, and young children in King County,” Constantine said in a transcript shared by the county. “They are literally taking food from the mouths of babies.”

Councilmember Joe McDermott, representing White Center and West Seattle at the county level, joined Constantine and said, “I differ with every one of my Council colleagues on politics and policy on occasion. But we work through our differences and adopt responsible budgets annually. To threaten mothers and children over politics is inexcusable."

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