Wisconsin Views on the Federal Government Shutdown

Wisconsin’s federal delegates all have something to say about the current shutdown of the federal government.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D)

Last week Senator Baldwin made a floor speech characterizing the looming shutdown as disrespectful to public.

In response to the shutdown, Baldwin has closed her Senate offices:

Due to a lapse in government funding, federal law and Senate rules require that Senate offices shut down and operate at limited capacity.
This means that:

  • My office is unable to conduct most constituent services as many federal agencies are closed due to the government shutdown.
  • Offices in Milwaukee, Madison, and Washington D.C. are operating at a limited capacity.
  • Given the limited staff available, we are doing our best to answer phone calls.
  • Requests for assistance are being monitered for emergancy needs only.
  • Emails sent to individual staff members will be responded to at the conclusion of the shutdown.
  • Letters and Emails sent to me will receive a response when the government is opened.

I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and I will continue to work with my colleagues to find a responsible way to end the shutdown as soon as possible.

Thank you for your patience

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R)

Sen. Johnson is keeping all of his offices open, but with limited staff. He released a statement saying:

“The Senate held four votes Friday afternoon on the House of Representatives’ continuing resolution to fund the federal government.
“The first was on whether to proceed to a vote on the resolution. I voted in favor of allowing a vote to defund Obamacare. I oppose Obamacare. I want to see it repealed and replaced. That can happen only if the Senate is actually allowed to proceed to final passage of a bill that does so.
“The second vote was to waive budget “points of order” — to ignore the fact that the resolution violated current law by exceeding spending caps. I cosponsored an amendment to fix that law-breaking. Majority Leader Harry Reid never even allowed that amendment to get a vote. I voted against letting this violation of the budget law go on.
“The third vote reinstated funding for Obamacare. I voted no. Democrats control the U.S. Senate. Without Democrat votes, defunding efforts failed. Republican efforts to get five Democrat votes failed.
“The final vote was on the resolution as amended. I voted no.”

Johnson discussed his views on the shutdown being tied to a vote on the Affordable Care Act on MSNBC:


U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R – 1st District)

Rep. Ryan released a short statement and a list of frequently asked questions and their answers.

As you may know, Congress and the President must enact interim or full-year appropriations by the beginning of the federal fiscal year (October 1) for many governmental activities to continue operating. Failure of the President and Congress to reach agreement on interim or full-year funding measures may result in the shutdown of affected government activities.

In a concerted effort to avoid a shutdown of the Federal government, the House of Representatives has voted multiple times to keep the government open, and we have extended an invitation to the Senate to meet in an effort to negotiate the differences between the two chambers. Regrettably, these sincere offers have been rejected.

While I remain committed to finding common ground and solutions that help American families and keeps the government open, I want to be sure you are informed as to how a government shutdown may affect you. In addition to the information below, please see the Congressional Research Service Reports: Federal Funding Gaps: A Brief Overview, and Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Processes, and Effects.

Please note that the following information is subject to change as the Federal government remains shutdown. If you have specific questions about the impact of the government shutdown, please do feel free to contact my office.

Government Shutdown: Question and Answers

Question: Will I continue to receive my Social Security Retirement benefit?
Answer: Because these benefits do not go through the annual appropriations process, and based on the information that my office has received, Social Security checks will continue to be issued. However, the impact of the government shutdown on things like the processing of new claims and other administrative functions is not yet known.

Question: I am currently covered by Medicare; what happens to my coverage during the shutdown?
Answer: Based on the information that my office has received, care for beneficiaries should not be interrupted. However, delays may occur in the processing of new enrollments.

Question: How does the shutdown affect veterans’ disability compensation and claims processing? Does a shutdown affect veterans’ health services through the VA?
Answer: According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), all VA medical facilities and clinics would remain fully operational including: inpatient care, outpatient care, prescriptions, surgeries, dental treatment, extended care, mental health care, nursing home care, special health care services for women veterans and vet centers.
Further, based on the information my office has seen, claims processing and payments in the compensation, pension, education, and vocational rehabilitation programs are anticipated to continue. Although, they may be delayed depending on the length of the shutdown.

Question: Will members of the military be paid?
Answer: On September 30th, the President signed H.R. 3210, the Pay Our Military Act, which ensures that our military personnel on active duty –including reserve component personnel on Federal active duty – continue to be paid through the shutdown.

Question: What does a shutdown mean for the IRS?
Answer: According to the information my office has received, the IRS would halt non-automated collections and tax processing activities, but would continue activities necessary for the protection of government property. These activities include – but are not limited to – processing tax payment remittances. However, services including telephone customer service are expected to be halted.

Question: What would happen with Unemployment Benefits?
Answer: State and Federal extended benefits are mandatory spending and will not be affected if a shutdown occurs. Initial unemployment claims data will continue to be released each Thursday. However, any other data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, such as the monthly jobs report currently scheduled for release on Friday, October 4th, will be delayed.

Question: Will Passport processing be delayed due to the shutdown?
Answer: According to the information provided to my office, State Consular functions, both domestically and abroad, are funded by fees-for-service so they will not be immediately impacted by a government work stoppage. However, some passport offices are located in federal buildings that may be forced to shut down during a work stoppage, impacting service. At this time, the Chicago Passport Agency, which is the primary processing facility for residents of Wisconsin’s 1st District, has reported that they are open and conducting business as usual.

Question: If I’m visiting Washington D.C., will national parks and museums be shutdown?
Answer: Based on the information provided to our office, national parks will be closed for public use. And while the U.S. Capitol building is open to Members of Congress, staff, and individuals on official business, the Capitol Visitor’s Center will be closed. If you have questions on your tours or your trip to our nation’s capital, please feel free to contact my Washington D.C. office at (202) 225-3031.

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D – 2nd District)

In addition to making an impassioned floor speech on the issue, Rep. Pocan released the following statement.

“This is a sad day for the American people, and our American democracy. Instead of working together to fulfill our most basic duty—to keep the government running—the extreme Tea Party wing has taken Congress hostage all the way to a government shutdown. Instead of being the world’s greatest example of representative government, we seem to have become the nation’s largest kindergarten—only with control of the nation’s checkbook and nuclear arsenal.

“It’s time for the adults in the Republican party to take the keys back from the Tea Party and stand up to those who would rather see our government shut down than allow expanded health care access in America. I am committed to doing all that I can to come to a commonsense resolution as quickly as possible, but I refuse to be held hostage by extremist demands.”

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D – 3rd District)

Rep. Kind released this video statement:

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D – 4th District)

Rep. Moore released the following statement

“I am dismayed and disgusted that the Republican Party has taken their ideological fight over Obamacare this far. Tonight the GOP has not only pushed us to the brink of another manufactured crisis, they have forced our country over the edge. This childish act not only impacts thousands of federal government employees, it could also close the vital nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children, temporarily suspend government-backed small business loans and send a devastating shock wave through our economy.

“Despite the appalling behavior demonstrated by the Republican Party this evening, they have not and will not prevent the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. As I have said many times, the Obamacare train has left the station. The health care marketplaces will open later this morning and millions will have access to health insurance for the first time.

“It is past time my Republican colleagues understand that enough is enough. I implore GOP leadership to abandon their stalling tactics and allow a vote on the Senate’s clean Continuing Resolution. Time has officially run out. This hostage situation must end.”

Last week she delivered a floor speech opposing the shutdown.


U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R – 5th District)

Rep. Sensenbrenner has yet to make a formal statement on the shutdown. However, in September he released a statement calling for a Senate vote on the House-passed continuing resolution that contained H.R. 2682, the Defund Obamacare Act. 

“The Republican-controlled House has made its stance against Obamacare perfectly clear. And today, the House again voted to defund Obamacare as part of the CR to keep the government running. Now it is up to the Senate to do what the American people want and vote against the president’s abominable health care law.”

U.S. Rep. Thomas Petri (R – 6th District)

Rep. Petri released the following statement prior to the shutdown:

“Today I voted for a funding bill to keep the government’s doors open through December 15. The bill that passed the House would also delay Obamacare for a year and repeal the expensive medical device tax that will add to the rising health care costs facing Americans—which has received bipartisan support.

“In the event there is a shutdown, the House also passed a bill to ensure that our troops and their families still receive their paychecks. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but it’s the right thing to do.

“I do not want a shutdown, and I don’t believe it’s in anyone’s best interest. I’d like to see the Senate act on the House-passed bill so we can move past this and do the work of the American people that we were sent here to do.”

He also made a similar floor speech

U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy (R – 7th District)

Rep. Duffy released the following statement prior to the shutdown:

“Obamacare is not ready. Congress, the President and the American people know this. The President has already agreed to repeal or defund seven pieces of his signature legislation and today the House has given him the opportunity to delay the entire thing.”

Rep. Duffy continued, “Today the House stood with the majority of Americans and passed a resolution that funds the government and delays Obamacare for one year. It is now the Senate’s turn to take up the measure. I am hopeful that they too will remember their constituents and vote the will of the American people.”

U.S. Representative Sean Duffy (WI-07) spoke to MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts about the House GOP’s efforts to re-open the government and work with the President and Sen. Reid.

U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble (R – 8th District)

Rep. Ribble had the following to say on the shutdown:

“It’s harmful and embarrassing that the federal government has reached a point of shutting down operations. This is not a moment to be proud of or to celebrate.

I’ve stated from the beginning of this process that while I vigorously oppose Obamacare and believe it is poor healthcare policy, I do not believe shutting down the government is the correct strategy to address this flawed law. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Whether two days, two weeks or two months from now it is irrational to assume the President is going to sign a law eliminating his hallmark legislative achievement. The only outcome this yields is additional acrimony, risk to our economy, and escalating but appropriate distrust of government to actually get its work done. I hope congressional leadership in both chambers and both parties will work expeditiously to resolve this issue and bring this shutdown to a close.”