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Frustrations Build As US Government Shutdown Drags On

Frustrations Build As US Government Shutdown Drags Oni
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October 03, 2013 10:36 PM
For many in the United States, life goes on, for now, as it always has despite the government shutdown. But even for those who aren't feeling any impact, there's a sense things are not normal. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
For many in the United States, life goes on, for now, as it always has despite the government shutdown.  But even for those who aren't  feeling any impact, there's a sense things are not normal. 

In Washington, some things seem normal - like people walking on the National Mall, commuters making their way into work.

But monuments and other attractions are closed.

Streets are emptier. Commuter trains are less crowded - Metrorail is tweeting that ridership is down 20 to 25 percent.

Yet while many government offices in Washington are closed, this passport office in New York is still up and running.

“I would really be frustrated if I wouldn’t be able to get my passport.  I wouldn’t be able to go on vacation, and it would just be a big hassle," said traveller Adriel Friedlander.

Some goverment checks (social security checks) are also going out.  And at Dulles International Airport, government employees - like air traffic controllers - are making sure flights take off and land as usual.

Still tourists like Sarina Kawahara from Japan can't escape the shutdown.

"My friend said this is a big disaster for us because we can't go sightseeing in Washington," she said.

But there were no disasters getting in or out.  Things were moving along as usual.

Even though it's hard to tell at places like this airport that the government is shut down, for many Americans there is still a growing sense of frustration.

David Cook, a veteran, came to the airport to pick up his son and daughter-in-law arriving from England.  Earlier he tried to stock up on discounted groceries at his local military base.

"Can't buy food on the base or get gas on the base - any of those things," said Cook.

So he'll be paying much more elsewhere.

Empty classrooms for Head Start - a government-funded school program for poor children - are also touching a raw nerve,  and have sparked protests in New York.

“We want them to give up their salaries in Congress so our kids can eat, so that our kids can learn," said a teacher.

And in Washington:

“I was totally disgusted because we cannot run our Head Start program," said Yolanda Stinson, Head Start volunteer.

Other Americans, like the Reed family in Indiana, are in limbo,  waiting for approval of a government-backed mortgage that can't come until the government reopens.

''We're in this hotel for who knows how long," said Mrs. Reed.

"How long?" - that question is on the minds of many waiting for the shutdown to end.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

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