7 North Texas facts about the government shutdown

Posted Wednesday, Oct. 02, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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1. TSA screeners, customs agents working without pay: It’s business as usual for Transportation Security Administration screeners and customs agents who conduct security checks and passport entry interviews on thousands of passengers traveling through Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. DFW spokesman David Magaña said the airport is not experiencing longer lines at checkpoints because the TSA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection are “pretty much at full strength.” While these essential government employees are showing up for work, they don’t know when they’ll be paid. With the shutdown, even essential workers must wait to get their next paycheck until Congress provides funding. — Andrea Ahles

2. Some workers getting paid at Naval Air Station: The commissary is closed, but the Army and Air Force Exchange remained open Wednesday, according to a notice on the Fort Worth base’s Facebook page. The Visitor Control Center, pharmacy, and Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities also remained open. Active-duty military personnel at the base are getting paid. But Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Gilbert, part of the public affairs office for the Texas Air National Guard unit on base, said active Guard reserve personnel are operating some of the offices without pay for now. Gilbert and others in the military technician workforce are on furlough until the shutdown is over. — Terry Evans

3. Braille readers stymied: Vision-impaired residents who rely on the National Library Service website to download books and periodicals are out of luck during the shutdown. The service, part of the Library of Congress, recently launched an iPhone app that lets mobile users download Braille books or audiobooks from the library. — Elizabeth Campbell

4. Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery coping: The cemetery on Mountain Creek Lake in Dallas, the final resting place for some 40,000 veterans, is fully funded through mid-October, Director Ron Pemberton said. Even if the money runs out, he said, the 15 or so burials a day won’t be affected. “We may have to furlough employees who mow the grass, pick up litter and stock the flower containers — basic maintenance stuff,” Pemberton said. “We’ll still try to mow the grass with the [burial] employees.” — Terry Evans

5. Research continues at UNT Health Science Center: All active projects receiving federal funding will continue, but new grant applications are delayed. The National Institutes of Health, which accounted for about half of the Fort Worth institution’s $36.2 million in funded research in 2012, encouraged researchers to hold off on submitting new applications, center spokesman Jeff Carlton said. Student aid should not be affected; students have already received federal loans and grants for the fall term. — Diane Smith

6. Veterans worry about access to National World War II Memorial: A group that flies World War II veterans from Fort Worth to Washington, D.C., is in a holding pattern. Vicki Hughel, a board member for Honor Flight Fort Worth, said four dozen veterans are scheduled to visit the memorial next week. “We’ve been on the phone quite a bit,” Hughel said. “We have to go, because everything’s already paid for.” Thus far, veterans have been able to access the memorial. On Tuesday, U.S. Reps. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi, Richard Nugent of Florida and Louie Gohmert of Tyler led a group past barricades erected by the National Park Service. — Terry Evans

7. U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing open, sort of: The visitors center, run by a civilian contractor, is operating on its regular schedule. The status of the moneymaking machine in Fort Worth is another matter. A message on the Treasury Department’s line said public affairs workers are furloughed. — Terry Evans

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