Updated: Many furloughed over shutdown

Updated: Many furloughed over shutdown

Many federal employees throughout East Central Illinois reported for work this morning, only to be told to go home.

At the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service and Rural Development offices in Champaign, an estimated 80 people were idled by the government shutdown, said NRCS spokeswoman Paige Buck.

"This hasn't happened in 17 years," Buck said, adding she was optimistic the impasse would be resolved soon.

Fifty-five people who work at the U.S. Geological Survey's Illinois Water Science Center in Urbana were affected by the shutdown, as were 13 in DeKalb and four in Mount Vernon, said Doug Yeskis, the center's director.

Employees there this morning were turning off computers, setting up voicemail and directing website users to alternate sites, Yeskis said.

However, much of the real-time data collected by the center will still be compiled and available at a website, he said.

The center maintains a stream gauge network and monitors groundwater quality, among other things.

At the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Construction Engineering Research Laboratory in Champaign, 21 people were slated to be furloughed, said spokeswoman Dana Finney.

Remaining employees would be funded by last fiscal year's authorization, she said. But that funding could run out, depending on how long the shutdown lasts.

If that happens, others at CERL — with the exceptions of those in a few areas, such as security — could be subject to furloughs, she said.

At Willard Airport, air traffic controllers remained on the job this morning, and only one Federal Aviation Administration employee there — a secretary — was sent home.

"All the controllers are still on the job," said Larry Wixom, the air traffic manager at Willard.

Also continuing to operate as usual were most functions of the federal judiciary.

"We're working with reserve funds that allow the courts and federal judiciary to operate up to 10 days," said Ken Wells, the U.S. district clerk for central Illinois.

Cases were continuing to move through, and clerk's offices remained open, he said, adding that the federal defenders and federal probation office also fall under the judicial branch.

However, Wells said the U.S. attorney's office and the federal marshals office are part of the executive branch and face different circumstances.

A call placed to Sharon Paul, spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in Springfield, yielded a voicemail message that she would be away from the office during "the government funding lapse" and unable to return calls.

Local Social Security offices are open for "limited services," according to a recorded message on a toll-free Social Security line. The message encouraged people to seek services online.

Due to the shutdown and limited staffing at agencies like the National Science Foundation, University of Illinois proposals for new funding will not be processed.

"The largest impact in the short term, and we don't know how long the shutdown will last, will be that no new awards or approvals could be made," said UI spokesman Tom Hardy.

Existing grants and contracts that have been authorized and funded are going forward, he said. In recent weeks research administrators on the three campuses noticed an uptick in federal funding agencies processing pending grants and contracts, Hardy said.

Laura Bleill, assistant director, external relations, at the UI Research Park, said that if the shutdown continues, Small Business Innovation Research grants for several companies at the research park could be affected.

Dan Mann, director of financial aid at the University of Illinois said his department was "pretty much pretty unaffected by it at this point."

The university has already received "the vast majority" of student financial aid, including federal grants and loans, for the semester that began in August, he said.

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spangwurfelt wrote on October 01, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Way to go, tea party!

JimmyB wrote on October 01, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Please stop drinking the Kool-Aid, it is Obama who is holding this country hostage!

Bulldogmojo wrote on October 01, 2013 at 3:10 pm

The affordable care act is NOT a bill it is a LAW. When has there ever been a congress prior to this one that shut down the government over an attempted repeal of an already existing law?



JimmyB wrote on October 01, 2013 at 4:10 pm

The Affordable Care Act needs to be called by its real name: THE LARGEST TAX INCREASE IN AMERICAN HISTORY.

Bulldogmojo wrote on October 02, 2013 at 9:10 am

Well JimmyB, since you want to engage in misnomers...

I think people who don't carry insurance and turn up in hospitals to get treated and ditch the bill thereby sticking me with ever increasing medical costs for my care are instituting a deadbeat tax against me.

Get enrolled and pay for your health insurance, just like you pay for your car insurance.

asparagus wrote on October 05, 2013 at 6:10 pm

The ACA is dangerous because it will lead to a vast concentration of power at the federal level.  Large concentrations of power inevitably lead to corruption and loss of freedoms.

I support the spirit of the ACA and see many of its goals as being noble and needed.  I don't support the way it has been implemented.  It should be implemented in a decentralized fashion with most of the power situated at the state level and supported across states by free markets.

The fact that Republicans did not seize the opportunity a long time ago to propose a realistic plan of this type and fight for it is their loss. The best thing we can do now is try to force changes to the existing law which is what libertarians and conservatives are trying to do, but in a misguided fashion.  They will have power back eventually and then they can make needed changes. Such changes are inevitable and the direct result of the way Democrats ramed this legislation through congress.  This will play out over many, many years.

BTW, the lobbying machine in DC is already perverting this law to benefit big business. That is why many Republicans are attacking the tea party. Their corporate pals are already very happy with what they see as a financial bonanza coming their way.  Neither Democrat nor Republican will fight the lobbyist who already wield most of the power in DC.

bluegrass wrote on October 06, 2013 at 11:10 am

The Democratic Party is holding the federal government hostage in defense of their law.  This law is directly reponsible for kicking my family and me out of our current insurance plan, and forcing us to buy something different.  The closest policy available costs me an additional $4000 a year.  So let's dispense with the pie in the sky notion that you're somehow paying for some deadbeat's healthcare, and talk about real life situations.

Bulldogmojo wrote on October 06, 2013 at 8:10 pm

The democratic party did not shut down the government to get ACA into law so why is the Republican/Teaparty shutting down the government to repeal it. Romney lost sorry for you and sour grapes at the Foxsnooze Christmas party I guess.

Given the broad subsidy parameters* if you won't pay it then deadbeat is the proper term.

* "The federal government will provide subsidies to those who earn 400% of the federal poverty level -- $94,200 for a family of four, or $45,960 for a single person. You will pay what you owe; the government will pay the insurer the subsidy directly."



bluegrass wrote on October 07, 2013 at 9:10 am

So an article that is no more than a quick summary is proof that you have the definition of deadbeat nailed down.  Poppycock.  I'm interested to know how much you currently pay for your health insurance, if you're willing to say.

You didn't address my situation, though.  Obama and the Democrat leaders have been lying to the public about this from the beginning.  Obama said, if I'm happy with my plan I can keep it, about 5000 times over the past 4 years.  Obama promised our insurance costs would go down $2500 for the average family.  Now both of those are absolute lies, and in fact the exact opposite is happening to me.  So how should I respond to this?  Obama's answer is to go to a website that doesn't work and see if I qualify for welfare.  If at some point, by some miracle I get through and figure it out, well step up to the trough, boy!  If not, pound sand and take it.  Two options, neither of which I find acceptable.

Bulldogmojo wrote on October 08, 2013 at 9:10 am

I currently pay about $265 a month for health alliance coverage through work for my family. Choosing my employment based in large part on healthcare was by design. The more people you have in a group plan the lower your out of pocket costs are.

If you haven't gotten into the website because it's down (probably because Govt. I.T. people have been furloughed by the GOP) how can you declare you are going to pay $4000 a year? What is so unique about your situation, where others who have signed up are reporting premiums less than $100 a month but yours is in the $400+  range? President Obama was elected to two terms on a platform of National healthcare so you have had plenty of time to prepare and also have until March 2014 to sign up.

I think you have drunk the Cruz kool-aid and don't seem to be able to make rational decisions about your own healthcare. You should study the matter with half as much zeal as you concern yourself with your gun rights and concealed carry.

spangwurfelt wrote on October 01, 2013 at 9:10 pm

The House could get this taken care of in an hour's worth of business if only the Speaker of the House had any boehners.

Senate passed a clean CR. Obama's ready to sign a clean CR. The House would pass a clean CR if it came to a vote. But Boehner'a blocking the vote, because the Tea Party has his spine tied up and gagged in an undisclosed location.

The ACA is a law. If you want to get rid of it, don't lose so many elections next time. Mitt Romney made killing Obamacare his number one campaign issue. And then America told him to take a hike.

Orbiter wrote on October 01, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Headline is VERY wrong, and VERY misleading.

Hundreds of people have been locally furloughed within the various branches of USDA alone in Champaign County, not just the 80 in the single office mentioned.  I know may of these people. They don't deserve what is happening. 

And there are many other branches of federal service locally being cut as well. For the N-G to trivialize their numbers as in the "dozens" is insulting and simply a lie.

But it's no surprise, we know that the N-G is a pro-Republican paper.

Mike Howie wrote on October 01, 2013 at 4:10 pm
Profile Picture

Thanks for your note. We don't have comprehensive numbers yet, but will report those as they become available. But you make a good point about the headline, which has been changed.

Mike Howie

online editor

Orbiter wrote on October 01, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Mr. Howie: Thank you for your sensitivity and the adjustment to the headline.

Political Observer wrote on October 03, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Big business is starting to get nervous about the GOP crazies:


"Yet, the partial closing of the government and the looming confrontation over the nation's borrowing limit highlight the remarkable drop in the business community's influence among House Republicans, who increasingly respond more to tea party conservatives than to the Chamber of Commerce.

On Wednesday, Obama is hosting chief executives from the nation's 19 biggest financial firms. Moreover, the Chamber of Commerce has sent a letter to Congress signed by about 250 business groups urging no shutdown and warning against a debt ceiling crisis that they say could lead to an economically disastrous default."


..."If I'm reading this right, market fears are taking the following form:

    Bonds maturing after October 18 might end up in technical default, which reduces their usefulness as collateral in the repo market and thus their value.

    In addition, these bonds might also get paid late, and with maturity dates only a few weeks away, even a few weeks of delay has a big effect on their value.

    Bonds maturing after October 31 are safer, since everyone is assuming that things will be settled one way or another by mid-November at the latest.

I've mentioned before my theory that the now-combined budget/debt ceiling crisis could end up being resolved only by some kind of market crash. Pleading from the business community may be falling on deaf ears at the moment, but the one thing that really does seem to get the attention of even tea party Republicans is a market catastrophe. I don't know if we'll get to that point, but this chart seems to suggest that if the budget/debt ceiling standoff continues for another couple of weeks, that's what will finally put an end to it. Even John Boehner will finally tell the tea partiers that enough is enough if the repo market has seized up and U.S. treasury bonds are selling at about the same premium as those from Greece."

GOP Donors Revolt:


Links courtesy of:

Political Observer wrote on October 03, 2013 at 4:10 pm

"I've mentioned before my theory that the now-combined budget/debt ceiling crisis could end up being resolved only by some kind of market crash. Pleading from the business community may be falling on deaf ears at the moment, but the one thing that really does seem to get the attention of even tea party Republicans is a market catastrophe."  [From the Kevin Drum article above.]


The thing is, John Boehner is too afraid of Rush LImbaugh to do anything that doesn't have his OK, so it all boils down to how badly El Rushbo wants to damage the country and the government to try to get people to hate the President.

I think Limbaugh wants to go for the big crash just to be able to say that it all happened on President Obama' s watch..."Why, it happened during his administration just because he couldn't delay the start of his Socialist / Communist / Fascist healthcare takeover for a year!"

If you read the stuff at his website, he gives the impression, at least to me, that the bigger the implosion of the government and the economy that he could cause, the happier he'd be.

Political Observer wrote on October 03, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Let's rip back the curtain here, and take a quick glance at how the non-profit company that the  News-Gazette  is a part of (along with WDWS and WHMS) is trying to destroy our country and our government.  It's all done by a touch of misdirection, of course, with a bit of sleight of hand thrown in, on the side.

On the one hand, the News-Gazette side of the non-profit business runs editorials trying to minimize the magnitude of the government shutdown and say, "There's really nothing major going on here, Folks!..Move along, move along!...Nothing to see, nothing to see!," ...It's just that the House, the Senate and the President can't figure out how to keep the country running, but nobody really likes those guys, anyway!"

Meanwhile, on the other hand, the radio station side of the business, WDWS (the "Wholely Dishonest, Woefully Stupid" radio station!) continues pumping out its Monday thru Friday, 5-hour Hatefest to its Dittobot victims all over the Heartland, in an attempt to program them with disinformation and hatred.  Each Hatefest consists of 3 solid hours of LImbaugh, followed by 2 solid hours of Sean "Insanity" Hannity (and we use the word "solid" here, in the sense of "solid waste," of course)!

Let's now go to Limbaugh's website, and take a brief look at some of the things that he was saying during his Hatefest, on the first day of the Dittobot government shutdown:

[Excerpt...Much more at the link above.]

RUSH:  By the way, you know, it might help if I were to tell you who these ["Obamacare"] navigators are at the [Healthcare] exchanges.  In California, the navigators are people from ACORN, Planned Parenthood, the Service Employees International Union... Well, they are.  That's who got the money to administer the exchanges.  I remember the story that we did on this about a month ago.

California's getting something like $900 million for their exchange, and the people running it are ACORN, SEIU, Planned Parenthood -- and this is probably gonna be the case in all the other exchanges as well.  They are voter-registration outreach plans, essentially, in addition to administering the exchanges.  So it's gonna be ACORN, SEIU, Planned Parenthood. They're gonna have to make sure that your tax return and other personal data isn't just lying around on a fax machine or left overnight in the printer for the janitorial crew to get.


RUSH:  Let me ask you a question.  If things get too bad out there at the exchanges, can the navigators just do your annual checkup for you and be done with this?  You know, when you get right down to it, when you cut to the chase, when you strip away all of what's going on out there, these navigators are going to end up being your health care providers, these people that you're gonna be interacting with at the exchanges.

Now, what is an exchange?  An exchange, ladies and gentlemen, is a website, pure and simple.  It's a website.  Thirty-six states have set up or agreed to set up exchanges.  But let's say it was all 50 states, or is it 57?  Hell, I'm confused.  They've had three-plus years and limitless amounts of money and they can't set up websites?  They have access to the best brains and the best IT minds out there.  Instead, they funneled the money for these exchanges to their political buddies:  the unions, Planned Parenthood.

Folks, I'm not making that up.  If you didn't hear the program that day when we learned who is getting the money at the California exchanges, it is Democrat interest groups.  It's Planned Parenthood.  It's the Service Employees International Union.  It's ACORN.  These are the groups of people that are being given the money to administer, i.e., navigate these exchanges.  And all they are is websites.

asparagus wrote on October 05, 2013 at 5:10 pm

You could make your points in a lot less space.  It is obnoxious for you to dominate the comment space by the shear volume and length of your posts. I doubt that most people even bother to read your posts.  I don't.  I just find it annoying to have to scroll past them. Flame on!

Bulldogmojo wrote on October 06, 2013 at 8:10 pm

ACORN no longer EXISTS!!!!!!! what are you talking about??


6-4-2013 "House Republicans are scheduled to vote on two separate budget bills this week, each of which would reject funding for the poverty activism group ACORN, despite the fact that ACORN disbanded three years ago."