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Continued: Government shutdown spreading pain as it takes hold in Minnesota

  • Article by: KEVIN DIAZ and RANDY FURST , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Last update: October 2, 2013 - 6:19 AM

Peter Zakiel took his daughter Peterline, 15, out of school so she could apply for a Social Security card. She came to the Twin Cities from Liberia a month ago. “I took off work to come here,” he said.

Questions from veterans

John Kriesel, director of Anoka County’s Veteran Services Division, said veterans have called with lots of questions. He said all those receiving disability compensation will continue to collect benefits. But there could be delays in applying for compensation and in appeals.

The Veterans Benefits Administration will be fully staffed through Friday, department spokesman Peter Panos said. “If this continues, a very small portion of the administrative staff will be affected, but this should have no effect on the veterans or their family members.”

At the Food and Drug Administration, layoffs could lead to delays in approving lifesaving drugs, treatments and medical devices. The shutdown could slow research at the Mayo Clinic, which gets much of its funding from the National Institutes of Health.

The University of Minnesota, which gets $53 million in federal research grants, expects no disruptions, although new grants could be delayed. Students who rely on Federal Pell Grants or Federal Direct Loans for tuition should be unaffected.

The state’s American Indian tribes could be hit hard. Melanie Benjamin, chief executive of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, compared the government standoff to a poker game, with politicians “wagering our house payments, our prescriptions … our schools, our groceries.” Tribes rely heavily on federal aid, with some schools getting a third of their money from the federal government.

In St. Paul on Tuesday afternoon, owners of the Liffey, Burger Moe’s, Tom Reid’s and the Eagle Street Grille offered a free beer to any federal worker who showed a valid government ID. “We want government employees to know we think they are all essential,” said Kevin Geisen, owner of Eagle Street Grille.

 

Staff writers Jim Anderson, Kevin Duchschere, Kevin Giles, Paul Levy, Tom Meersman, Jim Ragsdale, Jenna Ross, Mary Jane Smetanka, and Doug Smith contributed to this report.

rfurst@startribune.com • 612-673-7382

Follow Kevin Diaz on Twitter @StribDiaz

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  • local impact

    Closed: All national parks and scenic and recreation areas.

    Furloughed: Minnesota has 18,349 federal workers, and half or more could be home indefinitely. The Minnesota National Guard furloughed 1,207 civilian technicians.

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