Sam Samhouri’s corner cafe in Oakland, California, sits on what might normally be considered a prime piece of real estate: directly across the street from an 18-floor office building.
The problem for Samhouri is that the campus that supplies most of his customers is the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building. That means many of his lunchtime regulars have been furloughed by the partial government shutdown in its second week.
“There’s nobody there,” said Samhouri, whose City Cup cafe employs three people.
As the shutdown entered its 11th day on News Year’s Day, there were signs the lapse was beginning to have an effect, not just on the hundreds of thousands of federal employees who have been furloughed or forced to work without pay but also on the businesses and industries that rely on them.
Though the impact was obscured by Christmas, when government offices were already scheduled to be closed, it may become more pronounced as much of the nation returns to work Wednesday. Some businesses are waiting on government loan approvals. Others, near federal buildings or national parks, are worried about losing their customer base.
More: The government shutdown is here. How does it affect you?
The shutdown began Dec. 22 when President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats failed to reach an agreement over White House demands for as much as $5 billion in additional funding for a border wall. Both sides are dug in, and there has been little indication that the impasse will be resolved quickly.
National parks remained open, though some reduced their services. Smithsonian museums in Washington have accommodated visitors but are set to close this week. Social Security checks continued, and airport screeners remain at work.
But for many, the impact has been tangible.
Federal workers hit
“This time, it’s going to hurt a lot more because of the time of year it is,” said Justin Tarovisky, a corrections officer at a federal prison in West Virginia and executive vice president of the local American Federation of Government Employees union.
“We work in a tough environment,” Tarovisky said. “Not only does it linger in the back of your mind, it kind of drives morale down a little bit.”
Though there is a heavy concentration of federal workers in the Washington region, the majority of federal employees work outside the nation’s capital. California, Texas, Florida and Georgia, for instance, account for about 20 percent of the overall civilian workforce, according to data from the Office of Personnel Management.
In the past, including the 16-day shutdown in 2013, federal workers received back pay. That outcome is not guaranteed because it requires Congress and the White House to work together to pass a law mandating the back pay.
“I think one day of a shutdown is too much,” said Ryan Baugh, who works for the Office of Immigration Statistics at the Department of Homeland Security and is an AFGE steward in the office. “As it goes on, the effects will be more strongly and widely felt.”
Both Tarovisky and Baugh stressed they were speaking on behalf of the union, not their agencies. The AFGE sued the Trump administration Monday, claiming it is illegal to require “essential” government employees to work without pay.
Though Trump delayed his annual trip to Florida to remain in Washington during the impasse, there was little evidence negotiations to resolve the standoff were underway. Trump and congressional Democrats continued to trade partisan jabs, a sign that officials were nowhere close to a deal to reopen shuttered agencies.
House Democrats, who will take control of that chamber Thursday, readied a proposal to reopen the government by providing full-year funding for most departments. The proposal would fund the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 8, giving both sides additional time to strike a deal on border security.
“This legislation reopens government services, ensures workers get the paychecks they’ve earned and restores certainty to the lives of the American people,” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer said in a joint statement Monday.
Trump rejected the proposal.
“Democrats, come back from vacation now and give us the votes necessary for Border Security, including the Wall,” Trump tweeted Monday.
Small businesses waiting
The lack of progress has left some small businesses in the lurch.
When Andrew Rickabaugh and his brother-in-law decided to start a restoration business last year in Huntsville, Alabama, they reached out to the Small Business Administration to guarantee a loan to help them buy equipment.
The process was going smoothly – Rickabaugh said he expected approval around Christmas – until the shutdown hit.
The Small Business Administration guaranteed more than $30 billion in loans to companies in the fiscal year that ended in 2017, but processing of most loans was suspended when the agency closed. Rickabaugh couldn’t reach SBA officials in Alabama.
“We’re having to do things a little differently than maybe we had planned,” said Rickabaugh, whose company, Rick-N-Ball Restoration, fixes damage caused by water, mold, smoke and other hazards. “It’s unfortunate that the inability of politicians to come to an agreement (means) people like us … pay a price.”
Rickabaugh said he’s pushing forward with the business, relying on his own credit. He described the government shutdown as a “speed bump that we will overcome whether that loan comes through or not.”
Officials near federal park lands remained concerned about how an extended shutdown might affect businesses. In Florida, most of the state’s federal wildlife refuges and parks were at least partially open Monday. That meant fishing and birding guides, as well as other services, were open – for now.
Everglades City Mayor Howie Grimm said keeping those businesses running is crucial to protecting his town.
“If they would shut them down, that would hurt for sure,” Grimm said. “Hopefully, they can get things worked out and the country can go back to work.”
More: Donald Trump, venting fury over budget fight, threatens to close border
Contributing: Bart Jansen, USA TODAY; Fort Myers (Fla.) News-Press