US mayors speak out against shutdown: ‘People are afraid’

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The federal government shutdown is entering its ninth day today and Americans from all walks of life have expressed their disapproval. 

The shutdown has had a crippling affect among communities nationwide leaving thousands unemployed and without benefits. The negative impact these neighborhoods face has been particularly troubling for big-city mayors who are front-line witnesses to the damage the political stalemate has wrought.

“We have to do our work every single day, there’s no time for fights about ideologies. We have to get the work done and I don’t think it’s too much to ask of Republicans in Congress to do the same,” Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a phone conference Wednesday.

“In my mind, it’s pure foolishness and how out of touch Republicans are,” she added.

Rawlings-Blake also stressed the importance of the Head Start program, which she says has been put in jeopardy and affects the education of millions of children nationwide.

If the shutdown continues, it could have drastic effects on the WIC program and SNAP benefits, which disproportionately serve people of color.

“The American people should be outraged about all of this. We need to get back to the business of governing and end the nonsense,” Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter said.

For Rawlings-Blake, her concerns lie with her constituents and the many African-Americans in Maryland, and beyond, who are currently undergoing severe stress as a result of the shutdown.

“The main thing I hear is the anxiety it causes for our community when you depend on benefits an see everyday a dysfunctional government,” she said. “There is an insecurity that builds because our livelihood is vulnerable and at jeopardy. People are afraid.”

Follow Lilly Workneh on Twitter @Lilly_Works