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How the government shutdown impacts Wisconsin

Posted at 10:54 AM, Jan 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-21 13:14:05-05

MILWAUKEE -- Day one of the federal government shutdown is in the books as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle struggle find common ground.

"The Republicans want to keep the government open, at least for a month and Democrats want to give some certainty to DACA," said UWM Political Professor Mordecai Lee.

The government shutdown halts all but the essential operations. With no deal in sight, thousands of federal employees in Wisconsin could be furloughed.

As the clock ticked down to midnight on Friday, all eyes were on Washington as a looming government shutdown became a reality for the first time in about five years.

"I'm not that surprised," said Frank Kunik of Shorewood. "They're divided, they couldn't come to an agreement."

"I wasn't particularly surprised to tell you the truth," said Ron Kuramoto of Whitefish Bay.

Lee says many Wisconsinites likely will not notice the impact of the shutdown right away as mail is still delivered, TSA agents line the airport and social security, Medicare and unemployment payments continue.

"If this goes beyond Monday I think Milwaukeeans are going to be surprised how much they're affected by the federal government," Lee explained.

Lee said thousands of federal employees in Wisconsin could be sent home without pay if their position isn't considered essential for civilian safety or protection of government properties.

The Wisconsin Army National Guard said out of the 1,000 full-time soldiers, only 250 are considered pertinent during a government shutdown. That means the rest will be furloughed if Congress doesn't find a resolution. Lee said the shutdown's effects will trickle down elsewhere.

"What if you want to ask the IRS a question and you can't find the answer online? What if you need to go to the social security office to change your address?" Lee questioned.

During the 2013 shutdown, about 40-percent of the federal workforce was furloughed.

While Kuramoto may not be impacted himself, he hopes the budget woes are solved soon so federal employees don't have to miss out on more of their paychecks.

"I feel very sympathetic; I feel they're victims of the failure of leadership," he said.

The Wisconsin Army National Guard says their crew of around 250 pertinent soldiers will still be ready and prepared to respond to natural disasters.