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Government shutdown affects southern Illinois

WSIL — President Donald Trump and federal lawmakers continue to debate over funding for a wall at the southern border, leaving some agencies in southern Illinois without money.

National parks like the Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge and the Shawnee National Forest are open, to an extent.

Closed signs hang over the visitor’s center at the refuge while other signs warn park goers to not leave any trash behind since there’s no one to pick it up. Same goes for the bathrooms.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with the National Forest Service, are a few agencies impacted by the government shutdown.

The TSA is another.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, (D) Illinois, spoke Tuesday with TSA agents in Chicago, who are required to work without paychecks during the shutdown.

"We are facing a government shutdown that is totally unnecessary," Durbin said.

Doug Kimmel, executive director for the Veterans Airport of Southern Illinois, said the shutdown won’t have a big impact on flyers out of Marion.

"Right now, it’s business as usual here," Kimmel said. "TSA (agents) are doing their jobs, just as they do day in and day out."

Kimmel said there’s about a dozen TSA employees at the airport.

He also said if the shutdown lasts for another couple months, it could affect construction projects, funded through FAA grants.

Another area affected by the shutdown is HUD.

The agency let 1,150 contracts expire with private landlords who rented to people receiving Section 8 housing voucher, and even though a HUD spokesman says those landlords will be paid eventually, housing advocates like Adrianne Todman, CEO of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials, worry it could lead to evictions.

"We have to rely on the goodwill of owners to sort of ride this wave with us," Todman said.

A spokesman for the Jackson County Housing Authority said HUD has enough money for other programs through the end of February.

Messages seeking comment from officials at the Marion federal prison, another agency impacted by the shutdown, have not been returned.

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