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October 1, 2013

Americans anxious, irritated as gov't shuts down

NEW YORK —

NEW YORK (AP) — The partial government shutdown that began Tuesday left many federal workers uncertain of their financial future, with many facing unpaid furloughs or delays in paychecks.

Park ranger and father-to-be Darquez Smith said he already lives paycheck to paycheck while putting himself through college and worried how he'll fare if the shutdown lasts a long time.

"I've got a lot on my plate right now — tuition, my daughter, bills," said Smith, 23, a ranger at Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park in Ohio. "I'm just confused and waiting just like everyone else."

A midnight deadline to avert the shutdown passed amid congressional bickering, leaving Americans unable to get government services ranging from federally backed home loans to supplemental food assistance for children and pregnant women.

From New York's Liberty Island to Alaska's Denali National Park, the U.S. government closed its doors as a budget impasse idled hundreds of thousands of federal workers and halted most non-essential government services for the first time in nearly two decades.

The impact of the shutdown was mixed — immediate and far-reaching for some, annoying but minimal for others.

In Colorado, where flooding killed eight people earlier this month, emergency funds to help rebuild homes and businesses continued to flow — but federal worker furloughs were expected to slow it down.

National Guard soldiers rebuilding washed-out roads would apparently be paid on time — along with the rest of the country's active-duty personnel — under a bill passed hours before the shutdown. Existing Social Security and Medicare benefits, veterans' services and mail delivery were also unaffected.

Other agencies were harder hit — nearly 3,000 Federal Aviation Administration safety inspectors were furloughed along with most of the National Transportation Safety Board's employees, including accident investigators who respond to air crashes, train collisions, pipeline explosions and other accidents.

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