Most Chicagoans won't notice a short-term federal government shutdown, but the effects could start to be felt by some if the stalemate lingers a few weeks, officials from Springfield to City Hall to college campuses indicated Monday.
That's because most agencies can get by for a few weeks without federal dollars by tapping into reserves.
"We know we will be affected by a federal government shutdown — it's the duration that will determine the extent of the impact," said Kristen Mack, spokeswoman for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
Cook County hospitals still will accept patients, college students will get financial aid and the state won't stop processing unemployment checks or child support payments. But hundreds of thousands of federal workers face unpaid furlough days and national historic sites, including President Abraham Lincoln's home, could be shuttered.
Here's a look at some of the potential effects after Congress failed to reach an agreement before Tuesday's new federal budget year:
Gov. Pat Quinn's budget office said most state agencies, including those that rely on federal grants, will have enough money to provide services in the short term. But state employees whose positions are paid for by the federal government may receive layoff notices as early as Wednesday.
The budget office could not say how many workers may be impacted but noted the last federal shutdown in 1995-96 led to layoff notices for 1,200 employees. The layoffs would hit workers in the Department of Labor, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and Military Affairs, among other agencies.
At City Hall, a spokeswoman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel said she was reluctant to speculate on how a shutdown might affect city government. If it were to last three or four days, there might be little or no effect, she said.
"I'm not going to speculate on a doomsday scenario," spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton said. "I think we all know what that looks like."
Cook County officials say a shutdown would not affect programs such as the Medicaid health care program for the poor, so hospitals and clinics will remain open to treat patients.
If federal community development grants are delayed, the county can keep the program afloat in the short term. Mack, the Preckwinkle spokeswoman, said the county is more concerned about the looming debate over raising the debt ceiling later this month, which could further affect federal payments.
Furloughs of Transportation Security Administration workers aren't expected to be significant, with all but about 4,000 of the more than 59,000 employees expected to be kept on. Air traffic controllers and equipment technicians will continue to report to work and delays are not expected, officials said, even as furloughs were planned for administrative staff.
President Barack Obama's administration has instructed federal agencies to prepare to get by with "skeletal" staffing, with hundreds of thousands expected to be placed on unpaid furlough. That led more than 50 federal workers to gather in Chicago on Monday to voice their opposition to the shutdown.
"They need to go on and do what they need to do, stop messing with federal employees," said Frances Shields-Jackson, a grants management specialist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "It's just ridiculous that the common people always, we always have to be the ones who suffer."
At Naval Station Great Lakes, as many as 2,500 civil service employees face furlough. Spokesman John Sheppard said the unpaid time off would have a ripple effect at Great Lakes, as civil service workers are responsible for everything from roads and sewer upkeep to filing routine paperwork.
Employees have been told to report to work Tuesday, at which time they will be told whether they must go home. "It's a morale blow, I can tell you that," said Sheppard, who faces a furlough.
Capt. Dustin Cammack, a spokesman for the Illinois National Guard, said he and more than 1,200 guardsmen and women will be sent home Tuesday to "sit on the couch and wait until this thing unfolds."
The Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield will lock its visitor center's doors and parking lot gates Tuesday after a shutdown. About 25 employees at the tourist site would be placed on furlough, a spokesman said.
Argonne National Laboratory near Lemont and Fermilab in Batavia are expected to be open in the short term, but would largely close if the shutdown continued, according to a Department of Energy news release.
The court is prepared to operate as usual for at least the first 10 days of a government shutdown. After Oct. 15, however, furloughs could kick in.
About a third of the 300 employees in the U.S. Attorney's office in Chicago would be told to stay home in the event of a government shutdown. The furloughs will affect administrative staff and attorneys who handle civil litigation but not the office's approximately 150 criminal prosecutors, who are exempt, spokesman Randall Samborn said.
Meanwhile, representatives of the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service in Chicago said their operations will not be affected as they are considered essential government functions.
A government shutdown would have a minimal effect initially. Campus-based scientists and researchers whose projects are funded by federal grants could continue their work, but the government would not make any decision on pending grant applications or awards.
For the 14 million students who rely on federal grants and loans, a U.S. Department of Education contingency plan states that they "could continue as normal." The funding would not be affected initially because it is based on last year's budget and is administered through third-party vendors or online.
But there could be ramifications if the shutdown extends beyond a week, most notably if colleges and universities need assistance as they administer various financial programs, said Justin Draeger, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.
A shutdown is not expected to have any immediate impact on home mortgage lending even though the federal government backs almost 90 percent of mortgages. That's because Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, while overseen by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, remain privately held companies.
The Federal Housing Administration will continue to endorse new loans "to support the health and stability of the U.S. mortgage market," the agency said. About 8 of 10 loans are endorsed by lenders that have been approved by the agency.
Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, the nation's largest mortgage loan originator by volume, said it does not expect any real disruption in its home mortgage lending unit or its loan modification activities.