PABLO – Services available to its members through the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes won’t be impacted by the federal government shutdown – not this week, anyway, according to CSKT spokesman Rob McDonald.
“However, the deeper we get into October, the more likely services will have to be cut back or altered” if Congress does not pass a federal budget, McDonald said.
The Tribal Council has opted to create a fund to cover the cost of otherwise furloughed employees this week, McDonald said. Some tribal jobs in various departments are partially or totally funded with federal dollars that aren’t available without a federal budget in place for the new fiscal year.
“We have some employees who are paid with a mixture of federal and tribal money,” McDonald said. “Some are 25 percent federally funded, some 50 percent and some 100 percent.”
There is good news for tribal members, McDonald said – news that some could find ironic.
The federal shutdown comes because some conservative members of Congress do not want to fund the Affordable Care Act.
But, McDonald said, “health care is considered essential, and all tribal health services will continue unchanged.”
Also safe, McDonald said, is funding for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families administered through CSKT’s Department of Health and Human Services.
It is “safety net” programs such as elder care and other family services that could run into problems if Congress and the president can’t agree on a budget soon. Programs and departments that use Bureau of Indian Affairs moneys through self-governance compacts are most affected.
“The deeper we go into October, the tougher the decisions become,” McDonald said. Without a budget in place, the “council will be forced to prioritize. Some programs could be forced to change their operations. Those decisions have not been made.”