Nightly News   |  October 01, 2013

‘It’s a mess’: Uncertainty reigns in wake of shutdown

Furloughed federal workers don’t know when their next paycheck will come, and programs that affect millions of Americans are shutting down, including nutrition benefits for roughly nine million pregnant women and new mothers. NBC’s John Yang reports.

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>>> good evening, a good number of americans probably wondered at one point today what must we look like to the rest of the world ? we'll actually have a sample of that in a moment, but first, the coverage of the first full day on the government shutdown , the first in two decades, they gave up and went home in congress last night, and with the president's order as the time zone played out in the west, the official word went out for the shutdown, the cost is being felt in its impact in america which is where we'll begin tonight, nbc's john yang is in chicago, good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian, on these three blocks here in downtown chicago , three federal office buildings, today, the people came to work to out of office messages, and then went home to wonder when their next paycheck would come. in chicago, epa employee elizabeth lile left her office this morning to apply for unemployment benefits .

>> right now, i'm terrified. i'm terrified to the point where okay, what is going to happen?

>> shutdown is not the way to go.

>> reporter: we first met her yesterday when she joined other workers to protest the shutdown.

>> congress needs to be turned over somebody's knee and spanked real hard because they're acting like small children.

>> reporter: it is a feeling shared by hundreds of thousands of furloughed workers around the country. at the agriculture department in washington.

>> it is a mess, congress needs to get their act together.

>> reporter: for now, federal programs that affect millions of americans are shut down, including nutrition benefits called wic, for roughly nine million pregnant women and new mothers. like this mother and her daughter, savannah.

>> if i didn't have wic, i would basically have to drop out of school and work to supply the formula and food for my child.

>> reporter: head start services stopped for about 19,000 low income children. without them, this student, victoria thomas, will need to find a baby-sitter for her daughter, faith.

>> i have to take out loans to help pay for it and it puts me more in debt.

>> reporter: nearly 400 parks and museums, including yosemite, are closed. tourists making plans a while back are disappointed.

>> we were disappointed, we came from maine and had this planned for over a year.

>> reporter: also shut out, the flu center just as the flu season begins, on the other hand, social security benefits, food stamps and veteran's benefits, along with food stamps , will continue. air traffic controllers will stay on the job. agencies like the post office that have their own funding will stay open. and the president gets paid, much to the annoyance of this mother.

>> congress needs to grow up, i mean, to be honest with you, if they had to live on what most of us work at, and live on, they couldn't make it.

>> reporter: the last time there was a government shutdown , congress voted to give workers retroactive pay, this time, there is no guarantee what will happen.