How is the government shutdown impacting Chicago?

October 1, 2013 8:45:36 PM PDT
How is the federal government shutdown impacting services in Chicago and the suburbs?

With all the shutdown talk, John Klemz was stunned to get his passport. "They said business is normal," Klemz said of the passport office.

"It freaked me out because I didn't know if it would be open and I really need the passport," Theo Harden said.

At Great Lakes Naval Training Station, 2,500 civilian workers were sent home.

For those and all the other furloughed workers, it means no work and no pay.

Museums, parks and monuments are all shut down, including the World War II Memorial on the National Mall-- but some veterans managed to get in on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, World War II vet Eric Yanow will be one of about 91 veterans who plan to leave Chicago on an honor flight to Washington to visit the memorial.

"Why would they close a memorial, why would they close a cemetery because of political things. That's dumb," said Eric Yanow, World War II veteran.

And in Indiana, fifth graders from Union Township were going on a three-day trip to the Indiana Dunes. But the National Park Service has been closing the federal section of the dunes.

"It make me feel sad for them that this was something they'd looked forward to for quite some time and it unfortunately changed due to things outside of their control," said Nicholas Smith, teacher.

It does look like the kids will be able to use facilities at the state park section of the dunes.

The government shutdown closed few federal services that deal directly with the public. The courts, law enforcement, prisons, airport control towers and TSA checkpoints also were not affected.

Civilian workers at military bases are furloughed, as well as federally-paid technicians who are members of the Illinois National Guard.

"Of those 1,300, about 1,230 of them will be sent home today at noon," Capt. Dustin Cammack, Illinois National Guard, said.

"I think this is just going to be punishing the federal employees at the expense of politics," John O'Grady, AFGE Local 704, said.

Government worker union leaders in Chicago blamed House Republicans, including the six Illinois GOP members who voted for the budget bill that included language to defund Obamacare.

"There are a lot of people in Washington who are walking around like they're kings - but they're actually servants and they actually serve the people. And come Election Day it's our job to hold them accountable," James McNary said.

Despite the Washington standoff, Illinois launched its effort to sign up uninsured Americans for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

"Anytime you have a new social program that's going to involve thousands of people, you don't stop. You have to get going and once you get going you keep on going," Gov. Pat Quinn said.

The shutdown, which went into effect on Tuesday, affects "non-essential" workers, which includes thousands of people across the country.

    What's closed/impacted by the shutdown:
  • All National Park services are closed;
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has ceased disease surveillance;
  • Most routine food inspections by the Food and Drug Administration are suspended;
  • About half the Defense Department's civilian employees will be furloughed;
  • EPA closed;
  • And the IRS will cancel audit appointments.

    Still open:
  • Post office/Amtrak
  • Social Security payments will continue;
  • 1.4 million active-duty military personnel stay on duty
  • Most Homeland Security agents and border officers still working;
  • Public safety, law enforcement agents remain on duty;
  • Most Department of Veterans Affairs services continue.

Some workers say they've been through this before, in 1995. Those who are still on the job may have delayed paychecks.

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