Michigan braces for federal government shutdown | Michigan Radio
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Michigan braces for federal government shutdown

Dec 21, 2018

A partial federal government shutdown is expected beginning Saturday unless the U.S. Senate can pass a bill that includes President Trump's demand for more than $5 billion dollars in funding for a border wall. In Michigan, that would mean some federal employees will work without pay, and others could be furloughed.

U.S. Democratic Representative Debbie Dingell says that's no way to run the government. "The impact will be how people who will probably be deemed essential will be feeling that they're caught, once again, in a political war that they shouldn't be caught in," says Dingell.

Departments potentially affected by the shutdown are Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, State, Transportation, and Treasury.

National parks are one government service that could experience closures or reduced staffing. Staff at the Huron-Manistee National Forest say the forest will remain accessible, but the offices will be closed, and some recreation sites may be gated in the event of a shutdown.

At the Detroit Homeland Security Investigation Field Office, law enforcement and intelligence officers will remain on the job through a shutdown, but about 15 mission support personnel could be furloughed. 

The Department of Housing and Urban Development said that out of about 120 regular employees in its Detroit offices, one full time employee will continue working, with others brought in as needed. Services such as payments for Section 8 housing, contract payments, grants, and basic homeless services will continue uninterrupted. 

Some parts of Michigan's government rely heavily on federal funding. According to a spokesperson for the State of Michigan, the shutdown would not affect the state right away, "Long story short, a federal government shutdown would not have an immediate impact on state government, and this one would be less than a full shutdown because it only impacts certain federal agencies.  We would not feel any effects of a loss in federal funding for about 30-45 days.  Should a shutdown occur and should we get indications that it will be prolonged, then we will need to look at the state budget and develop a plan, but we don’t anticipate that will happen.  At this point, it’s simply business as usual."

Lynn Sutfin, a representative of Michigan's Department of Health and Human Services, says, "MDHHS will continue to review and examine the impact a federal government shutdown would have on the services we provide the public. Given the large role federal dollars play in our funding, this will take some time to determine.  However, the state has determined it has the ability to keep programs such as Medicaid and WIC up and running for about a month before impacts of a shutdown would be felt."

Overall, most Michiganders would not notice a difference in the services they receive or the resources they can access, as most of those will be considered essential. However, Rep. Dingell says the shutdown will have a psychological impact, "I think that anything that deeply impacts people will be deemed essential, so what we would be doing is discouraging them at the holiday time."

*This story was updated Dec. 21 at 7:30 PM.

*Clarification: An earlier version of this story said that the Huron-Manistee National Forest would remain open. It has been updated to clarify that the forest will be accessible to visitors, but the park offices will be closed.