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As the clock ticks, we take stock of what the partial government shutdown means in Michigan


Update October 1, 7:04 a.m.

The federal government is now under a partial shutdown as Congress was unable to pass a bill to fund major portions of the federal government. The Republican-controlled House wanted to delay parts of the Affordable Care Act (the healthcare exchanges open today), and the Senate and the President would not agree to attaching such language to the funding bill.

You can hear an exclusive interview with President Obama on Morning Edition this morning. He tells NPR's Steve Inskeep:

"This perpetual cycle of brinksmanship and crisis has to end once and for all."

We'll have more on how this will affect us here in Michigan later today.

September 30th, 5:44 p.m.

More shutdown fallout... what will happen to the ArtPrize art in the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library in Grand Rapids? Michigan Radio's Kate Wells explains that the library could go dark at midnight tonight with two top ten finalists locked behind the doors.

And on Stateside today, Cyndy Canty spoke with the Detroit News' Washinton D.C. reporter David Shepardson.

Canty pointed out that 41% of Michigan's budget comes from the federal government. So the question is, what will happen in Michigan if the federal government is shut down?

Shepardson said that if the shutdown lasts one or two days, it won't have a huge effect. But if it's a long, drawn-out shutdown, the state of Michigan won't receive federal dollars in the form of future grants.

As an example, he pointed to transportation project money that goes out to enforce seat belt and drunk driving laws over holiday weekends - that money would no longer be available.

Shepardson said estimates are that each day the government is shutdown, it costs taxpayers $150 million a day.

"It's definitely very pricey, and also think about just the sheer amount of time and effort that's been spent over the last weeks and weeks by these federal agencies figuring out 'how do we shutdown' rather that do the actual jobs that they're supposed to do," said Shepardson.

September 30th, 1:50 p.m.

Brian Smith at MLivereports on a plan the U.S. Department of Education has released on what will happen in the event of a shutdown. Like many federal agencies, the pain will not be felt immediately unless there is a protracted shutdown:

"A protracted delay in Department obligations and payments beyond one week would severely curtail the cash flow to school districts, colleges and universities, and vocational rehabilitation agencies that depend on the Department’s funds to support their services," the plan states.

September 30th, 11:48 a.m.

The new fiscal year begins on October 1, and as the USA Today points out, a bill to fund the government must be passed by both the U.S. House, and the U.S. Senate, and then signed by President Obama by midnight tonight to avoid a partial government shutdown.

The House passed its version of a funding bill yesterday. Among other things, it calls for delaying implementation of the Affordable Care Act by one year - something that the Senate and President Obama are not likely to approve.

It's a game of finger pointing, and representatives in the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives are pointing fingers at President Obama and the Senate. 

Here are a few tweets from Michigan's Congressional delegation:

Democrats naturally blame the Republicans for continually trying to stop Obamacare:

With a shutdown, or partial shutdown, looking likely, people are wondering how Michiganders might be affected.

The USA Today has answers to 66 questions and reports:

Social Security recipients will receive benefits, mail service will continue and taxes will still be collected. But if you wanted to visit a national park, historic site or a Smithsonian museum, those gates and doors will shut Tuesday without funding.

As far as National Parks go, the big three in Michigan are Sleeping Bear Dunes, Isle Royale, and Pictured Rocks. All would close if a shutdown is not avoided. The Detroit Free Press reports padlocks would go up in parts of Sleeping Bear:

“I’m sure some visitors will be disappointed,” said Tom Ulrich, deputy superintendent of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Empire in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula. If forced to close Tuesday, the park will be reduced to a skeleton staff and the popular Pierce Stocking scenic drive swept of visitors, then padlocked.

The Associated Press reports federal courts in Michigan would remain open in the event of a shutdown:

Court spokesman Rod Hansen says it would be “pretty much business as usual” for approximately 10 days. There are some major court hearings in early October, especially the sentencing of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick on Oct. 10. Detroit’s bankruptcy case is ongoing, too. A trial to determine if the city s eligible to restructure its debts is set for Oct. 23. There are federal courts in Bay City, Detroit, Flint, Port Huron and Ann Arbor. A message seeking comment was left Monday with federal court officials in western Michigan.

This kind of brinksmanship is something Michigan has experienced in recent history. With a Democratic Governor (Jennifer Granholm), and a Republican-controlled state Legislature, budgets were sometimes quibbled over until a shutdown was imminent. In 2007, the state government did shutdown for several hours.

The last time the federal government shutdown was in 1996.

*We'll update this post as we learn more today.

Mark Brush was Michigan Radio’s Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.
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