09/30/2013 06:19 pm ET Updated Oct 01, 2013

Government Shutdown Hits Chicago And Illinois Workers, Federal Employees Protest


Updated story

Calling it "political theater of the absurd," nearly 100 government employees rallied in downtown Chicago at Federal Plaza in Monday to protest the then-looming government shutdown -- the first in 17 years.

(Read HuffPost Politics' up-to-the-moment live blog on the government shutdown.)

Thousands of area workers in agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development face furloughs after Congress failed to pass a new budget by the midnight deadline Monday.

Earlier in the day, Fox Chicago reports workers carried signs of protest reading "Jobs Not Furloughs."

Joseph Love, a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, told CBS Chicago he feels the shutdown is all about the GOP's attitude toward the president.

“The only reason why they’re doing that – I hate to say this – just because Obama is black. That’s all it is – the Republicans – that’s all it is."

A spokesperson for Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office refused to speculate Monday over the long-term local impact of the shutdown telling the Tribune, "I think we all know what that looks like."

Per the Tribune:

"The early prevailing wisdom is that the Chicago area should be able to weather a short-term shutdown largely unscathed but that the impact will become more apparent the longer federal funding is suspended."

Tuesday, U.S. Sen, Mark Kirk (R-IL) issued a statement saying:

"It is unfortunate that partisan differences have brought us to a shutdown of our government. From day one I maintained that while I do not support ObamaCare, a shutdown of the federal government will have a negative impact on our markets and the economy. If we are to overcome this impasse, both sides must be willing to compromise."

Monday afternoon, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) laid the blame for the shutdown squarely at the feet of the Tea Party Republicans blasting them for self-congratulating on their "courage and wisdom."

"Their courage? What courage does it take for a Tea Party Republican to shut down the government at the expense of someone else's job? ... That's not courage, that's cowardice."

J. David Fox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal union, told the Sun-Times, “I call this a lockout, not a shutdown. It hits us all — management employees and those in our bargaining units.” Fox said “tens of thousands” of his Illinois members are subject to furlough.

Some federal jobs continue despite the shutdown, including work by air traffic controllers, the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service in Chicago and workers completing the Chicago Transit Authority's Red Line Reconstruction Project (the project was funded pre-shutdown).

Federal courts in Chicago and around the area can operate for at least the first 10 days of a government shutdown. However, parks and tourist attractions -- like the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield -- were shuttered Tuesday.

As with other national parks and attractions, social media sites for the Lincoln Home were dark as of Tuesday morning:

With employees considered non-essential to national health, safety and security furloughed, the Sun-Times said it will be "more difficult or impossible" to get a passport, a gun permit or a new Social Security card until the the government is back in business.