As the fight barrels on between President Donald Trump and U.S. Congress over the federal budget and a U.S.-Mexico border wall, the effects of an indefinite government shutdown are starting to hit the Chicago area.
Local federal workers who have been furloughed or are working without pay face uncertainty in their everyday lives. More than 40 agencies employ about 40,000 federal employees across the region, according to the Chicago Federal Executive Board.
And though the effects on others are minimal -- packages are moving through the mail, airport security workers are inspecting travelers and courts are open -- ordinary people who rely on tax refunds, food and housing assistance or other government programs could soon face challenges.
The federal government shutdown last January essentially ended after one work day. A 16-day shutdown in 2013 meant some federal agencies with local offices, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Labor and the Small Business Administration, had to cease some operations and send some employees home.
But as federal workers and House Democrats push for a speedy government reopening, Trump has held firm on his $5 billion border wall demand. A Tuesday night address to the nation and a Thursday visit to the U.S.-Mexico border are planned.
Nicole Cantello, who represents EPA employees as chief steward of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 704, said that more than 800 employees in Region 5 have been furloughed.
"That's pretty much everybody," said Cantello. "We know of one person that is working at Region 5 right now."
Those still working have been declared essential or have been deployed to environmental emergencies around the nation, like disposing of Camp Fire's hazardous waste in California.
Cantello said she should receive a partial paycheck this week, but the next paycheck in two weeks may not arrive.
"Then we have a big swath of people who have been furloughed, who are not working, like myself, who are just very concerned about putting food on their plates," said Cantello, noting two mortgages and a tuition payment she needs to make this month. "Another thing is just the general insecurity of not knowing when you're going to go back to work."
TSA workers at O'Hare and Midway Airports also do not know when or if they will be paid.
Robert Doyle, a TSA officer at O'Hare for eight years, said that one day's pay will be missing from Friday's paycheck.
Illinois farmers also could be affected as the shutdown potentially stalls the Farm Bill and federal aid.
"Illinois farmers already face enough uncertainty from Mother Nature and the president's reckless trade war -- but now, the Trump shutdown is causing even more economic stress for (agriculture) producers as they weather a struggling farm economy," said U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., in a statement. "This may be a game of chicken for the president but this might mean the family farm for producers in Illinois."
Although some national parks have reportedly closed or become receptacles for garbage and human waste, Superintendent Kathy Schneider said local impact at Pullman National Monument isn't noticeable. The park isn't yet fully operational and only three workers in the administrative office have been furloughed, she said.
A voicemail message at the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield says the park is currently closed. "The park will reopen at its regularly scheduled business hours once the shutdown has ended," according to the message.
Court employees also are reporting for work but some trials have been shut down. Immigration court hearings are also being delayed with some cases being rescheduled after funding resumes, according to the Department of Justice.
U.S. District Court Chief Judge Ruben Castillo told the Tribune last month that two weeks into a shutdown, civil trials would be most vulnerable.
"We're just about at that point," Castillo said Monday. "If this continues into next week, I will shut down civil trials, which is going to be silly because I've already postponed government lawsuits."
Castillo said another concern is when court employees will be off payroll.
"I think we can make the next couple of checks but going into February is going to be problematic," said Castillo. "I'm not talking about judges here, I'm talking about everyday people with everyday bills."
A meeting with court employees is scheduled for Wednesday, following Trump's address.
"If he comes out tomorrow night and addresses the nation and says, 'I'm sticking to my guns and this shutdown could go months or even a year,' I'm going to have a very difficult meeting Wednesday morning explaining to people that they're going to have to continue working without getting their pay."
"This isn't the way to run the courthouse," said Castillo. "I should be dealing with other issues, not this so-called emergency."