As the work week opened Monday, the federal government shutdown sidelined a host of federal employees in the Chicago area.
On the Far South Side, Pullman National Monument Superintendent Kathy Schneider said she was given a few hours Monday morning to perform “shutdown activities.” She and another full-time staffer were being furloughed.
“We put notices on our emails, on our voicemails, we turn off our government equipment,” Schneider said. “We are not allowed to conduct government business nor volunteer to do government business during the shutdown.”
Schneider said the Pullman Monument visitors’ center is routinely closed during January and February, but people are still welcome to walk or drive through the area. During the last government shutdown in 2013, Schneider was in St. Louis as a project manager at the Gateway Arch — another victim of the current shutdown.
Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Senate on Monday continued angling toward an agreement to end the shutdown that began at midnight Friday. But because the work week began without a deal in place, the shutdown’s most significant effects began to kick in Monday morning.
Now, Schneider is planning to use her time off to paint her basement in suburban Homewood.
“We’re disappointed,” she said of the closure. “Those of us who work for the National Park Service are passionate about what we do and we’d much rather be working. We’re optimistic that Congress and the administration will find a quick solution to the shutdown.”
“It’s an unfortunate time, but a good time to catch up on chores around the home,” she said.
In Springfield, the Lincoln Home National Historic Site was shuttered and callers to its headquarters heard this message: “Due to the federal government budgetary shutdown, the park is currently closed. The park will reopen at its regularly scheduled business hours once the shutdown has ended. We apologize for this inconvenience.”
Even some congressional offices were operating with skeleton staffs.
“Our staff is furloughed with the exception of … essential employees,” U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam’s spokeswoman Veronica Vera said Monday.
Roskam, a Wheaton Republican, has retained a staff of six employees while a total of about 16 staffers and interns in his suburban Chicago and Washington offices have been furloughed, Vera said.
Those idled “were directed to stay at home and turn off their work cellphones,” she said. Vera was one of two staffers in Roskam’s West Chicago office, which she said would remain open.
It was unclear whether work in suburban Hoffman Estates to process former President Barack Obama’s archives and artifacts was ongoing. The National Archives and Records Administration leased a building in the northwest suburb and hired staff for that.
“The National Archives and Records Administration is closed to normal operations due to a lack of appropriations,” an email from the agency read. “Our Communications staff will be out of the office until authorized to return and will respond to your inquiry at that time.”
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