Some Floridians Afraid, Others Applaud House Republicans' Stance As Shutdown Looms

Sep 30, 2013

U.S Capitol
Credit David Iliff

Congress remains at an impasse with just hours left before the deadline for passing a federal budget. Residents in the Big Bend area are worried government services could slow down or stop if agreement is not reached in Washington.

Seventy-seven-year-old Ann Prescott lives in Tallahassee. She says she’s concerned about whether she’ll continue getting Social Security checks if there’s a federal shutdown. And a phone call to her local Social Security Administration office did little to quell her fears. She asked the woman on the phone if she could count on her monthly check.

“And her reply at that point was, ‘I hope so,’ and I said, ‘What do you mean, ‘Hope’? I really need to know,’ and then she admitted that she didn’t know,” Prescott says.

And Prescott says the woman couldn’t put her in touch with anyone who had the answer.

“And I said, ‘What am I going to do?’ And she said, ‘Pray.’”

The federal government says so-called essential services, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid will continue even after a shutdown. But state Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda (D-Tallahassee) says she worries those services could be delayed.

“Some of them might go out slower than usual. If you are new to the system, that could be a problem. In fact, I’ve been told that will be a problem, if you are making applications,” she says.

Rehwinkel Vasilinda and other progressive female state lawmakers were in Washington, D.C. for an annual conference. She says they were planning to address congressional leaders on Tuesday but instead held a press conference Monday morning asking for a shutdown to be averted.

“Negotiations, civil discourse, diplomacy, talking to one another to create solutions to the problems that face all of us is really what we need, or we’re going to continue to face this type of paralysis,” she says.

On Monday, the Senate rejected a House bill that would have continued funding the government while defunding ObamaCare. Congressman Steve Southerland (R-FL 2), who represents the district including Tallahassee, was among those voting for the ObamaCare defunding bill. His office did not respond to a request for comment.

But Jacksonville-based First Coast Tea Party Chairwoman Carole McManus says Southerland and his like-minded colleagues are doing the right thing in opposing what she sees as an unfair law.

“Whatever they have to do to make this right, they have to do what has to be done,” she says.

She says a government shutdown could be averted if the Senate would agree to defund ObamaCare.

“It’s sort of hard to say whose fault is what here. If some folks refuse to negotiate, what’s right about that?” she says.

Large pieces of the federal healthcare law are scheduled to go into effect Tuesday.