NASA furloughs from government shutdown impacting surrounding businesses

The partial government shutdown is now in its 12th day, as members of Congress still won’t agree on funding for a border wall.

At NASA, one of the many federal agencies impacted by the shutdown, most employees have now gone a week without pay. Ninety-six percent of their workforce was furloughed last Wednesday.

“I can tell you that there’s a lot more parking right now,” said Michael Cabrera, a project manager for the International Space Station.

Empty parking lots—one of the effects of 16,700 NASA employees not showing up for work. That’s how many were furloughed without pay starting December 26, according to a federal union spokesman.

“I hope they enjoy their time off, but I know they’re very eager to return to work,” said Cabrera, one of just four percent of NASA workers continuing business as usual during the government shutdown.

“We just keep going forward,” said Cabrera. “Nobody knows exactly when it’s going to stop, but we know that in the end, we’re just gonna have to keep working, and eventually everybody will be back, and things will be back to normal pretty soon.”

With NASA’s thousands temporarily out of a job, businesses in the Nassau Bay Area are also seeing an impact.

“Lunchtime is impacted,” said Frankie Camera, owner of Frenchie’s Italian Restaurant.

He says the lunch crowd has been scarce since the shutdown started. His most common customers are NASA employees.

“They’re afraid to spend the money to go out and eat, you know,” said Camera.

For tourists wanting to get a dose of space, there’s one place not impacted by the shutdown.

“Space Center Houston is open during the government shutdown,” said Meridyth Moore, a spokeswoman for Space Center Houston.

Because it’s a 501(c)3 nonprofit, the government shutdown doesn’t touch Space Center Houston or the tourists who stop by to learn about NASA.

“We still have access to our NASA Tram Tours, our Level 9 Tours are operating, all education programs are running,” said Moore.

At the moment there’s not an end in sight to this partial government shutdown. President Trump saying the shutdown will last “as long as it takes” to get the border wall funding that he’s asking for.