WASHINGTON (CIRCA) — The ongoing government shutdown technically only affects a portion of the government, but the impact it is having on everyday people is farther reaching than it looks on paper. Here are some examples with which you might not be familiar.
Port-a-potties on the National Mall
If you were planning on visiting Washington's iconic National Mall, you might want to hold your nose. The National Park Service, which maintains the scenic grounds, isn't currently funded, so the Mall's bathrooms have been locked up, and portable toilets have replaced them. While the toilets were clean Wednesday, earlier reports claimed they were overflowing.
More than 25 million people visit the Mall each year, and without anyone to take care of the grounds, trash buildup has been a problem. Fortunately, some civic-minded volunteers have pitched in to pick up the trash.
No new microbrew
If all this shutdown business has you wanting to reach for your favorite microbrew, you might be out of luck. New releases from the nation's approximately 7,000 craft brewers are stalled, pending the reopening of the government. That's because they can't get approval for new labels from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), which is currently closed.
"(The TTB has) to approve all new labels. Before we can sell a new product, we have to submit the label to the TTB, they will review it and approve it," said Bill Butcher, owner of the Port City Brewing Company in Alexandria, Virginia.
This delay is causing major problems for Port City, which has a label pending for a beer scheduled to be released around March. Butcher explained that the TTB's closure has downstream effects for the entire beer business. With no approval, he can't buy the packaging he needs for his beer. With no packaging, his distributors can't stock retailers, leaving you, dear reader, with no new beer.
"It's challenging enough on a good day, and then you throw in something like a government shutdown, and it really just frustrates us to no end," Butcher said. "It really puts a wrench in our plans, and it hurts our chances to remain profitable."
Stalled student loans
Any prospective, current or former college student who has filled out the Free Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) knows student loans can be a pain to navigate, but the government shutdown is making it even more difficult. Student loan paperwork often requires proving a student's status as a dependent. In University of Maryland student Michelle Moraa's case, that means getting hold of her parents' tax forms. But with the IRS on a skeleton staff, and the agency's website under maintenance, it's become practically impossible.
"It was just really frustrating, because it felt like there was no one there to answer," Moraa told WJLA.
With the new spring semester on the horizon, students such as Moraa are in a difficult position.
"The time period for which I have to register for classes is slowly closing," she said.
Air traffic control goes without pay
You know what's more stressful than keeping the nation's aircraft from flying into each other? Doing it without pay. Many of the nation's air traffic controllers are working without pay because they are considered essential.
"The men and women that we represent, nearly 20,000 aviation safety professionals, are diligently working through this shutdown to be guardians of our skies, and they have the uncertainty of not knowing when their next paycheck is arriving," said Andrew LeBovidge,, leader of the National Air Traffic Controller's Association, while appearing on CNN. "The shutdown to us is unacceptable, and it needs to end."