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Government shutdown: How it affects Southern California

October 1, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
With the partial government shutdown, most of the 8,500 civilian employees at Edwards Air Force Base will be furloughed. Also, there are 1,200 civil servants and contractors at the Dryden Flight Research Center on the base.

It was a tough day at the base on Tuesday. Many people with jobs on the base were not headed into work - they were just going to pick up a few things and go home, including base spokesman John Haire.

"Report for four hours today and we have to pick up a thing called a furlough letter and then we are to go home. We are going to be on furlough, and it's just one of those things you just have to look at and accept and just handle it the best way you can and keep your morale up," Haire said.

Haire says with the exception of people whose jobs are not essential for safety, the government shutdown is putting thousands of federal employees on the base temporarily out of work.

"The civilian worker force here at Edwards is about in the neighborhood of 3,000 people. I believe that counts also NASA and a few other federal agencies, of course the big one is the Air Force," Haire said, adding that the furloughs do not affect military personnel and employees at Lockheed and Boeing.

Mike Stephens, an independent contractor and civil engineer, said the furlough is taking a toll on his life - both financially and emotionally.

"It's causing undue stress. I already have stress from my tour in Iraq. I'm a veteran, and this just adds to it. I work out here for the government. I do a good job. I put in my eight hours every single day. I show up. I give them everything I got, and this is how they return the favor," Stephens said.

The affected workers are calling on Congress to get it done and get them back to work.

The furloughs are a direct result of the partial government shutdown - the first of its kind in nearly 20 years.

People classified as essential government employees like air traffic controllers, Border Patrol agents and most food inspectors will continue to work.

However, the Federal Aviation Administration said nearly 2,500 safety office personnel will be furloughed - though they may be called back incrementally over the next few weeks. FAA safety office workers make sure planes are maintained safely and conduct inspections of planes and pilots at airports, including Los Angeles International Airport.

The partial government shutdown is affecting 401 national parks, including Joshua Tree National Park, where visitors were turned away on Tuesday. And those already there were told to pack up and leave in the next 48 hours.

Tuesday was Yosemite National Park's 123rd birthday but because of the government shutdown, it may go down in history as one of its worst. Tourists were turned away and employees were told not to come to work.

Federal Housing Administration loans, which help people buy homes at a lower interest rate and lower down payment, could be delayed. Passports and citizenships applications will be disrupted. WIC, a federally funded nutritional program for kids, could be shut down.

The Board of Veterans Appeals will stop issuing rulings, meaning decisions about some disability claims by veterans will wait even longer than usual.

The frustration also extends to anyone who needs to speak with someone from the IRS. Callers will hear the following message: "Due to the current budget situation, all IRS offices are closed."

Federal workers in Orange County are also trying to cope with the government shutdown that has sent them home and cut off their pay.

In Santa Ana, many employees showed up for work for about four hours, just long enough to clean their desks and change outgoing office messages to let people know what's happening, according to one worker.

A sign on the door tells visitors the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda is closed due to the partial federal government shutdown. While the presidential library is closed, the Richard Nixon Foundation is still operating, meaning scheduled private events remain unchanged.

Amid all of these possible effects, many travelers at LAX Tuesday morning said they weren't very concerned about the shutdown.

"I think it's nothing we haven't seen before, and everything will get straightened out. I think it'll be business as usual," said Jerry Wilde of Long Beach.

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, will not be affected by the government shutdown. The postal service will continue, active-duty military personnel will stay on duty and continue receiving paychecks, school lunches and breakfasts will continue to be served, and food stamps will still be distributed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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