January 19, 2018

Government Shutdown Disaster for Science, Leaves Health and Safety of Children in Limbo

Statement by Ken Kimmell, President, Union of Concerned Scientists

WASHINGTON (January 19, 2017)—Locked in a stalemate over undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children and permanent funding for children’s healthcare, Congress failed to pass a short-term funding bill. This has led to a shutdown of the federal government.

 Below is a statement by Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

 “As we saw in 2013, there are very real impacts of a government shutdown. It’s not just some national parks and museums that will close. Safety protections won’t be enforced and scientific studies will lapse, or cease entirely, causing months of disruption to federal agencies—agencies that, today, are already understaffed or led by underqualified presidential appointees. The EPA, for example, will only be at 5 percent capacity during a shutdown, and work on Superfund sites will stop. Without a resolution the federal scientific enterprise will come to a screeching halt, potentially adding millions of dollars in costs and months of delay to tax-payer funded projects.

 “The government shutdown is a crisis manufactured by the president when he decided to reverse an effective policy that allows kids who have been in the United States for years to stay here as productive members of society. One way or another, Congress must craft a solution to this problem. These young people are valued members of our communities—they serve in the military and are current and future doctors, scientists, engineers and teachers.

 “It is also just deeply disappointing that Congress has had months to pass a budget that would fully fund the government, but seems unable to accomplish this core task. Due to the dysfunction in D.C., all we’ve seen are interim funding measures that kick the can down the road. It is way past time for Congress to consistently and fully fund the government.”

For stories on the impacts of a government shutdown on science, see a blog by Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS.

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.