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How Indiana Is Impacted By The Partial Government Shutdown

1200px-washmonument_whitehouse.jpg

Aerial view of the Washington Monument. (Wikimedia Commons)

The U.S. government has been operating under a partial shutdown since Dec. 22. 

As NPR reports, the shutdown, driven by a political battle over President Trump's demand that Congress approve funds for a wall along the border with Mexico, is touching the lives of Americans in myriad ways.

Approximately 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed or are being required to work without pay.

Nine federal departments (and some smaller agencies like NASA) are affected, at least in part, by the lapse in funding: Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, State, Transportation and the Treasury. 

Here are some of the ways Hoosiers have been directly impacted by the shutdown. 

Editor's note: have you been personally impacted by the government shutdown? Contact news@indianapublicmedia.org if you'd like to share your story. 

Food Stamps

Hoosiers who receive food through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, will receive February benefits despite the government shutdown. The USDA directed states to apply and issue benefits early.

The Family and Social Services Administration says it will facilitate an early lump sum issuance on Jan. 19. Usually benefits are provided throughout the month. People on SNAP in Indiana are therefore encouraged to budget food benefits for next month.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Visitors still have access to the 15,000-acre Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, but all rangers except security staff have been furloughed and many programs have been cancelled. 

Notably, the Visitor Center is operated by Dunes Tourism and remains open. 

Hoosier National Forest 

The U.S. Forest Service offices in southern Indiana are closed, as well as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Field Office. 

Farmer Subsidies

The Farm Service Agency, which processes federal subsidy payments to farmers, is closed. Those payments to Hoosier farmers could be delayed as a result. 

East Chicago Public Meeting

The Environmental Protection Agency cancelled a public hearing on a cleanup plan at the USS Lead Superfund site in East Chicago due to the government shutdown. The meeting was set for Thursday Jan. 10 at 6 p.m. at the former Carrie Gosch School.

After a contentious meeting in November, residents asked for a second hearing on the EPA’s plans to remediate a portion of the site where the former West Calumet Housing Complex once stood. 

The EPA says residents can still comment on the lead and arsenic cleanup through Jan. 14.

Alcohol Permits

Breweries, wineries and distilleries in Indiana and Michigan are experiencing delays because some permits are not being issued. 

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau issues permits that allow businesses to open, craft a new beer or wine, or create labeling for a product. That agency is currently closed.

Read More: Sen. Braun's First Bill Would Keep Congress From Getting Paid During A Shutdown

Crop Report

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it must delay the release of key crop reports, leaving investors and farmers without vital information during an already tumultuous time for agricultural markets.

The reports detail the size of the 2018 harvests of corn, soybean, wheat and other crops and give an early estimate for what farmers will plant in the upcoming season.

Air Safety

Hoosiers traveling by air during the shutdown should be aware that many FAA safety inspectors aren't working. That means many planes are not being inspected and pilot training is not being certified, according to NPR

TSA employees and air traffic controllers are still working because they're considered essential, but they aren't being paid. 

Food Inspection

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration furloughed about 40 percent of its staff since the government shutdown. The agency has suspended all routine inspections of food processing facilities in the U.S., The Washington Post reports.

E15 Rule Change Delayed

Farmers are worried the shutdown might further delay a proposal to allow gasoline with 15 percent ethanol to be sold year-round. The Trump administration’s goal was to have it in effect this summer. 

The Environmental Protection Agency originally decided not to allow E15 to be sold in the summer months because more ethanol in gasoline makes it evaporate more quickly, causing more smog. The shutdown is only making the process of overturning that ban longer.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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