US shutdown: ‘I don’t understand it, there’s no excuse for this is there?’ More bewilderment than disappointment for tourists

 

New York

For the Hedbergs, a family from Sweden visiting New York, the sign at the head of the path that leads down to the ferries to Liberty Island – home to the Statute of Liberty – was more cause for bewilderment than disappointment.

“IMPORTANT,” read the headline, rendered in red above the message: “Government Shut-Down.” “The Government has temporarily shut down both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island,” said the sign in Battery Park area on the southern tip of Manhattan. “I don’t understand it,” said Eric, the father, who, with his wife and daughter, was surprised to hear that the government of the richest country in the world had, well, partially shut down over partisan bickering in Washington. “There’s no excuse, is there?”

Although they couldn’t visit the statute – which is managed by the National Parks Service, a federal agency that must suspend its services and send scores of workers on unpaid leave owing to the budget impasse – the Hedbergs and the other visitors did have an alternative: a harbour tour. But there were no alternatives for around 800,000 federal workers across the country. Many of them, when they showed up for work this morning, were told that they had no choice but to sit the shutdown out, and on their own dime.

In New York, the shutdown did little to interrupt the daily rhythm of the city. But many will be impacted if the shutdown persists: according to 2012 figures from the US Office of Personnel Management, the city is home to around 26,696 federal employees working for the executive branch, many of whom were told to take time off. Including workers spread across northern New Jersey and Long Island, the figure swells to over 50,000.

The picture was reported to be starker in Washington, where a large chunk of the population is employed by the federal government. The OPM puts the count of federal employees working for the executive branch at 133,698. There are another 21,676 in Arlington, Virginia, and 7,235 in Baltimore, Maryland. To the north, in Bethesda, work another 14,712, while to the south, Alexandria, Virginia, is home to over 14,000.

National monuments across the capital were closed, and many office workers were sent home.

The shutdown extended to cyberspace – the Nasa website was reduced to a single page with the message: “Due to the lapse in federal government funding, this website is not available.” The same was true of the website of the US Department of Agriculture.

Local politicians have put measures in place to ensure services in Washington will continue until mid-October – but then, if the budget issue is not resolved, residents could see a reduction in basic functions such as trash collection.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
Murray celebrates reaching the final
tennis
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Life and Style
tech
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
Sport
Harry Kane celebrates scoring the opening goal for Spurs
footballLive: All the latest transfer news as deadline day looms
Arts and Entertainment
Master of ceremony: Jeremy Paxman
tvReview: Victory for Jeremy Paxman in this absorbing, revealing tale
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Secretary

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This major European Intellectual Propert...

Tradewind Recruitment: Humanities Teacher

£130 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Humanities Teacher Jan 2015 - July...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - 9-12 Months

£14500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Accounts Assistant is immedi...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Communications Executive

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness