The US Capitol is photographed through a chain fence in Washington, DC, on September 30, 2013 (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque).
The US government shut down at midnight as the Republican-controlled House continued to demand changes to Obamacare, and in response workers all across the country are protesting the GOP’s actions.
Nearly 100 government employees rallied in downtown Chicago at Federal Plaza on Monday to protest the shutdown, the first in seventeen years, calling Congress’ actions, “political theater of the absurd.”
Fox Chicago reports workers carried signs reading: “Jobs Not Furloughs.”
When asked about the impact of a shutdown, a spokesperson for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office responded vaguely: “I think we all know what that looks like.”
The Chicago Tribune offered some more specifics: “The early prevailing wisdom is that the Chicago area should be able to weather a short-term shutdown largely unscathed but that the impact will become more apparent the longer federal funding is suspended.”
And the Sun-Times reports that if employees considered “non-essential to national health safety and security” are furloughed, it will be “more difficult or impossible” to get a passport, a gun permit, or a new Social Security card.
Chris Black, who workers for the EPA, told CBS that a shutdown would do more than just furlough workers. A shutdown will also affect the jobs they do.
“I’m involved in ongoing cleanups at different hazardous waste sites. They’re long-term cleanup projects and they’re going to be delayed,” said Black.
“We won’t have people inspecting wastewater treatment plants or sewage treatment plants, drinking water plants. We won’t have people out there checking the water quality,” John O’Grady, AFGE Local 704, said.
“It’s going to cost millions of dollars to shut the government down nationwide and then it’s going to cost millions of dollars to get the government up and running,” O’Grady said to ABC.
The shutdown might also disrupt the federal investigators at Monday’s CTA crash that injured forty-eight people.
ABC: “As of midnight tonight—if the government shuts down—they’ll be required to gather the evidence they have, the perishable evidence and fly back to Washington,” said Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois).
“We have dedicated public servants here. They’re basically being used as guinea pigs,” said Mike Mikulka, an environmental engineer and a vice president of the union, to the Sun-Times. “Lawmakers had all summer to do their job and fund the government.”