Washtenaw Dems Demand End to Federal Government Shutdown

Republicans, beholden to tea party extremists, cost MI taxpayers $18M a day
Thursday, October 10, 2013

LANSING – State Representatives Gretchen Driskell (D-Saline), Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor), David Rutledge(D-Superior Township) and Adam F. Zemke (D-Ann Arbor) demanded today that congressional Republicans bring an immediate end to the federal government shutdown that is threatening vital state programs by bringing a “clean” continuing resolution to a vote. Because of the government shutdown, now in its 10th day, Michigan is losing $18 million a day that is used to fund programs for veterans, children and entrepreneurs.

“The vast majority of people want Congress to fund the government, but a small faction is pursuing a narrow agenda rather than doing what’s best for the people,” Driskell said. “As a result, there is real suffering being inflicted on Michiganders.”

Irwin added, “The idea that a very small minority of Congress could prevent a vote on funding the federal government represents a real problem for Michigan families. The majority in Congress wants to move forward, but a tiny ultra-conservative group is holding the nation hostage, and the ransom is being paid right now by Michigan families who rely on food stamps, Head Start or assistance for our veterans.”

Earlier this month, Michigan’s State Budget Director, John Nixon, said the state stands to lose $18 million in federal funding each day the government is shut down. As a result, several programs that serve Michiganders stand to lose funding during the shutdown or will have to scale back services. Programs affected include:

  • Head Start programs: Michigan’s 39 Early Head Start and 67 Head Start programs serve 35,961 children and their families and rely on federal funding to operate.
  • School lunch programs: The federally funded free and reduced-priced school lunch program serves an average of 360,438 breakfasts and 867,167 lunches daily to students from low-income families in Michigan.
  • Veterans’ services: New veterans’ educational, compensation and pension benefits have been delayed, and disability payments to veterans may also be slowed. Michigan is home to 660,773 veterans.
  • Small Business Administration programs: Entrepreneurs who seek federally guaranteed small-business loans to open or expand will see their applications delayed. The SBA typically receives 1,000 applications each week.
  • New Social Security benefits: Seniors who become eligible for Social Security during the shutdown will likely have to wait for government operations to resume before new claims are processed.
  • Women, Infants and Children program: The program that ensures that impoverished pregnant women, infants and toddlers could run out of money to operate as early as today.
  • Real estate delays: Real estate transactions, which require identity and income verification, will likely be delayed as Internal Revenue Service operations are limited during the shutdown.

“This situation never should have happened in the first place, but it’s time to get these programs functioning again,” Rutledge said. “Families, seniors and veterans shouldn’t suffer as a result of this shutdown. Re-open the government now.”

Zemke continued, “The federal budget shouldn’t be held hostage by a radical minority or those interested in self-aggrandizement. It is time to set aside ideology and get back to work.”