See how the government shutdown is affecting residents in the Greater Houston area

As the longest partial government shutdown in U.S. history continues, local agencies and residents have begun to feel its effects. Take a look below at a few of the ways the shutdown has affected the Greater Houston area.

George Bush Intercontinental Airport closes ticketing and security at terminal, flights continue
George Bush Intercontinental Airport announced Jan. 13 it has closed the ticketing lobby and security checkpoint at Terminal B due to a shortage in Transportation Security Administration staffing.

According to a statement from American Federation of Government Employees—the nation’s largest federal employee union—TSA officers have been working without pay or have been forced to take a temporary leave of absence since the shutdown began.

Houston Airport System spokesperson Bill Begley said the TSA informed the HAS of the staffing concerns and told the HAS to make necessary adjustments. Begley said the HAS closed the ticketing lobby and security checkpoint at Terminal B because it would cause the least amount of disruption.

Although the ticketing lobby and security checkpoint are closed, flights are still arriving and departing from the Terminal B, Begley said.

Sam Houston National Forest recreation activities pause
According to an automated message on the Sam Houston National Forest’s district office’s phone line, the office will remain closed during the partial government shutdown. The office, which is located on FM 1375 in New Waverly, is usually staffed with forest rangers who oversee the forest and assist visitors.

“This United States Department of Agriculture office is currently closed due to the lapse in federal government funding. The office will reopen once Congress restores funding,” the message said.

Recreation areas and campgrounds in the forest are also closed, according to a Dec. 21 statement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture—which oversees the U.S. Forest Service.

Forest service law enforcement and emergency and natural disaster response services will continue while the government is shut down, according to the statement.

Texas SNAP recipients to receive benefits early
According to a Jan. 13 announcement from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, residents in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will receive February benefits early to ensure they have access to food during the government shutdown. The action was recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to a release.

SNAP recipients will see benefits loaded to their cards by Jan. 20, according to the THHS. Clients do not need to take any action if they are eligible for these benefits.

The THHS recommends recipients spread food purchases throughout the month, rather than making bulk purchases.

THHS officials said the state will continue to receive federal funding until it runs out, but it is not clear when or if that will occur. Applications for benefits will continue to be accepted; however, should funding run out, they will remain in suspended status until more information about funding become available. For more information, visit

NASA closes following lapse in funding, Space Center Houston remains open
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has closed, and employees have been furloughed as part of the government shutdown. Some activities, including tracking, operation and support of the International Space Station and "work essential to prevent imminent threats to human life or protection of property," will continue, according to NASA's website. 

On Jan. 15, dozens of NASA employees gathered outside the Johnson Space Center to protest the shutdown. 

Ninety-six percent of NASA’s workforce is furloughed, and only a few NASA employees at the Johnson Space Center are still working—without pay—to keep the astronauts aboard the International Space Station alive, according to reports.

Space Center Houston, while an official visitor center of NASA, is operated by a nonprofit organization and will remain open during the shutdown, and programs and events will continue, according to a Dec. 21 release from Space Center Houston.

Tax filing season to begin Jan. 28
Despite the shutdown, officials with the Internal Revenue Service announced Jan. 7 the agency will still accept and process tax returns beginning Jan. 28.

Should the shutdown continue through then, the IRS will call a significant portion of its furloughed workforce to return to work, according to the release.

Although the IRS has previously been directed not to issue tax refunds during a government lapse, the Office of Management and Budget has since said the IRS has to issue payments. The filing deadline for taxpayers in Texas will still be April 15.




Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan for the state Nov. 23 for a vaccine he said could be available as soon as December. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
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A total of 14,465 county residents have tested positive for the coronavirus since mid-March; of the total cases, 89% are considered to have recovered.A total of 14,465 county residents have tested positive for the coronavirus since mid-March; of the total cases, 89% are considered to have recovered.

Dozens of clinics throughout the county offer COVID-19 testing services. (William C. Wadsack/Community Impact Newspaper)
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The total number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized at Texas Medical Center facilities has increased by more than 50% over two weeks.

Adelaide's sells items from local brands whenever possible, such as kits from The Heights-based My Drink Bomb. (Colleen Ferguson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Adelaide's Boutique stores strive to be ‘first-stop’ shops for gifts

The Adelaide’s Boutique locations—14870 Space Center Blvd., Houston, and 6011 W. Main St., League City—are meant to serve as customers’ destinations for clothes, shoes, accessories, gifts and other boutique items, many of which are locally sourced.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan for the state Nov. 23 for a vaccine he said could be available as soon as December. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announces COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan

The vaccine could start being distributed "as early as next month," according to a Nov. 23 news release.

"Remember, we don't want to invite COVID-19 to the dinner table," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said at a Nov. 23 press conference urging caution amid rising COVID-19 positivity rates. (Screenshot via ABC13)
Mayor Sylvester Turner urges caution heading into Thanksgiving holiday

Houston officials also said 333 health providers had been identified as future vaccine delivery sites.

With remote learning opportunities becoming increasingly prevalent, CCISD is reviewing its flexible learning options—such as Cyber Cafe and the Clear Connections program—and examining current TEA guidelines to determine if changes are needed to any of these programs and policies. (Jake Magee/Community Impact Newspaper)
Clear Creek ISD updates: District adding new 2021-22 secondary courses, improving educational experiences

Five new secondary courses will be offered next school year; some courses will replace those previously offered, and some will be new courses altogether.

New guidance from the Texas Education Agency allows districts to require virtual learners who are failing classes or who have three or more unexcused absences to return to school in person. (Courtesy Canva)
Clear Creek ISD imposes grades-based restrictions on virtual learning

Although the Texas Education Agency allows schools to use attendance as a reason for mandating in-person learning with some students, CCISD officials chose to only focus on those who are academically struggling.

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Shake Shack opened its new standalone location at The Woodlands Mall in November. (Courtesy Christine Han)
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