US govt shutdown starts to bite

RAP ON KNUCKLES FOR CONGRESS: A woman protesting outside the United States Capitol in Washington this week against lawmakers' inability to pass a budget. Monuments and websites have been shut down.


    Oct 03, 2013

    US govt shutdown starts to bite

    IF THERE was a symbol of America's pent-up frustration over the gridlocked political system on Tuesday, it was this: Scores of elderly World War II and Vietnam veterans pushing past barricades to honour their fallen comrades at a memorial closed by a government shutdown.

    The veterans arrived in Washington from Mississippi and Iowa, having spent thousands of dollars to charter "honour flights" to the capital. But, like those of many others across the country, their plans collided with the reality of a Congress unable to agree on how to keep the government open.

    Lawmakers helped the veterans get past the barriers, but others around the country were not so lucky, as tourists were blocked from their destinations and more than 800,000 federal employees were told to stay home.

    The effects were not just felt domestically - President Barack Obama is cancelling two stops on his long-planned trip to Asia because of the shutdown.

    Mr Obama is scheduled to leave on Saturday night for what was originally a four-nation tour. The White House said he will still travel to Indonesia and Brunei, but is calling off the final two stops in Malaysia and the Philippines.

    Across the United States, barricades and padlocks barred access to federal facilities as the vast machinery of the federal government began shutting down systematically.

    Employees feared that they could be out of work for weeks, and many of them were angry.

    "Once the mortgage payment comes around and I don't get the pay cheque, it's going to be a problem," said Ms Sherilyn Garnett, 44, a federal prosecutor. "It's stupid. It's really stupid."

    Among the most noticeable impacts of the first shutdown in the Internet era: Many complex government websites were suddenly replaced by one-page notices like the one at, which declared that, "due to the lapse in government funding, sites, services and all online survey-collection requests will be unavailable until further notice".

    At the Statue of Liberty in New York, tourists from Norway and China were prevented from getting close to the monument of freedom.

    At Liberty State Park in Jersey City on Tuesday morning, Ms Wang Haiyan said that her nine-year-old nephew, Tony, had been "wanting to go inside the Statue of Liberty for a long time".

    She said her visiting relatives did not really comprehend what had happened in Washington because "the Chinese government never closes down".

    AP, NYT