government shutdown

The Illinois State Board of Education is warning schools they may not get reimbursed for free- and reduced-price lunch programs if the federal government goes into another shutdown.

Federal funds for school lunches flow through the State Board of Education, which then reimburses school districts and other programs. At the moment, ISBE has enough cash to get through April, but Jeff Aranowski, director of health and safety at the agency, says there’s no guarantee they’ll get their third quarter payment.

If that money doesn’t come through, the agency will be able to meet only about 40 percent of the need.

Perspective: Trashing Our National Parks

Jan 30, 2019
Marnie O. Mamminga

Stars shimmering in a great silence.  Lyrical rivers running over rock beds.  Air so pure and fresh, it takes your breath away.

And the beauty? Well, it is indescribable. All I can say is that it touched the heart of my soul.

That is what I remember most about my trips to three National Parks: Yosemite in California, the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and Glacier in Montana.  Three totally different environments, three totally unique experiences.

U.S. House Democrats joined mayors from around the country Thursday calling for an end to the partial government shutdown. Illinois Representatives Cheri Bustos, Chuy Garcia, and Brad Schneider joined colleagues from other states urging the Senate to pass bills to reopen the federal government.

Schneider discussed federal workers who have missed paychecks during the shutdown. He also expressed concern for safety and national security.

Members of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists national union will hold  a small protest at Chicago Rockford International Airport Saturday. Northern Illinois and Wisconsin Representative Pete Rosa says the government shutdown furloughed many aviation safety inspectors. He says air travel is unnecessarily at risk.

A federal judge suggests the protracted government shutdown will hurt the federal workforce in the long term. 

Ruben Castillo is Chief Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. His court has dwindling funds to pay employees and is set to run out January 25th.  He says the poor treatment of government employees, especially the lack of pay, will make young people think twice about seeking out work in the federal government.

Federal courts are feeling the effects of the government shutdown.  This includes the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.  It's based in Rockford and Chicago and hears both civil and criminal cases.

Chief District Judge Ruben Castillo says if the court runs out of money to make payroll, it will prioritize criminal cases for people detained and awaiting trial.

“We need to get those cases to trial as soon as we can," he said. "Somebody shouldn’t spend not even one extra day in jail unnecessarily."

Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault Website / Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Illinois’ crisis centers for sexual violence survivors are starting to feel the effects of the partial government shutdown—now in its fourth week. Funding for services will soon stop coming in.

The Justice Department has given organizations until January 18, when it will stop processing funding requests.

Courtesy of the Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry

Northern Illinois food banks are holding steady, despite the arrival of winter and a continuing government shutdown.

The Sauk Valley Food Bank in Sterling distributes food to pantries in Whiteside and Lee Counties, and outlying areas like Freeport. Executive Director Andrea Hensgen says their work hasn’t been affected much by the shutdown, but there has been a slight change in clientele.

Some college students were unsure they’d be able to pay their tuition on time, due to the government shutdown.

Government Shutdown Stalls Farm Programs

Jan 8, 2019
Sarah Jesmer

The partial government shutdown could affect farmers as they plan for the next growing season. DeKalb County Farm Bureau manager Greg Millburg says the shutdown mostly affects farmers interacting with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and those applying for programs laid out under the most recent Farm Bill.

“It's not impacting them a lot now, but as it goes on, it's going to continue to impact them more,” said Millburg.


For those wanting to apply for benefits like loans, they'll have to wait, said Millburg.

The Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield remains closed to the public as the partial federal government shutdown nears its second full week. There are two sites in Illinois affected by the closures -- the other is the Pullman National Monument in Chicago. The National Park Service runs both.  

U.S. Congress

Although they are from different political parties, two members of Congress from northern Illinois expressed remarkably similar sentiments Monday about the Senate action attempting to end the government shutdown and what lies ahead.

In separate interviews with WNIJ News, Republican Adam Kinzinger of the 16th District and Democrat Cheri Bustos of the 17th District both agreed that it is better to have the government open in order to move forward.

Neither of them liked the string of short-term continuing budget resolutions that led to the three-day shutdown.

"U.S. Capitol Building detail" by Flickr User Kevin Burkett / (CC x 2.0)

Republicans and Democrats are each blaming the other party for the impasse that has caused government funding to expire and a partial government shutdown to loom on Monday.

During a conference call with reporters Saturday, U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, said six years of government funding for a children's health insurance program (CHIP) should have been enough to encourage bipartisan support, though it did not get that in either chamber.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says Congress needs to act soon to shore up the federal online health insurance marketplaces put in place by the Affordable Care Act.  

The Illinois Democrat said he welcomes  bipartisan Senate hearings to discuss long-term ways to improve coverage for millions of Americans.  But for now, he said, swift action is needed to address the higher insurance premiums and the increased costs of prescription drugs.


Congressman John Shimkus says he supports efforts in Washington to block federal funding to Planned Parenthood, but he doesn’t favor a government shutdown over the issue.

The fifteenth district Republican says voters have demanded de-funding after secretly-recorded videos surfaced of Planned Parenthood officials allegedly discussing selling fetal organs.

The organization has said those videos were heavily edited and denied it’s done anything illegal. 

Hopes for ending the budget stalemate faded even further this week when Gov. Bruce Rauner's office interrupted a news conference called by Senate President John Cullerton.

Cullerton, a Democrat, began by telling reporters that Rauner's budget was unbalanced when it was introduced. But then Cullerton appeared to offer an olive branch, according to Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky. In front of reporters, he asked the Governor to start over on the budget.

It looks like Congress can avert a government shutdown, as tomorrow’s deadline to approve a spending bill approaches. Northern Illinois Congressman Randy Hultgren says there’s still a lot to pull together in the next few days.