It’s been more than three weeks since the Trump administration shut down the government. President Trump has threatened to drag this on for months or even years if Congress refuses to give him $5.6 billion to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Federal employees are immediately and directly affected by the shutdown. More than 800,000 of them are either required to work without pay or locked out of work without pay.
“The government shutdown artificially creates economic uncertainty for many middle-class families. It is yet another policy measure from the Trump administration that hollows out America’s middle class,” said Christian Weller, professor of public policy at the University of Massachusetts Boston. “The real economic burden that the shutdown puts on public employees not only hurts them right now, but it also unnecessarily creates worries for them for their future.”
Federal workers keep all Americans safe. They inspect our food, air, and water to make sure it’s safe. They keep the most dangerous criminals off the streets. They help airlines get us to our destinations safely. They make sure we receive our retirement checks and provide affordable housing and food to the most vulnerable. It’s irresponsible to play politics with the livelihood of the men and women whose work is invaluable to all Americans' health, safety, and economy.
Below we’ve compiled some of the incredible ways this shutdown is harming our public servants and our nation.
As most employees live paycheck to paycheck, if they don’t get paid on time, they won’t be able to pay mortgages, rent, car payments, and other bills. They are at risk of being in financial ruin, their credit degraded every day the shutdown is allowed to go on. Employees with a security clearance could also lose their jobs if their finances are ruined.
As one third of federal employees are veterans, veterans are disproportionally affected by the shutdown. It’s estimated that 155,000 veterans work at the agencies affected by the shutdown and are not receiving paychecks.
Newly hired employees who rely on their new federal income are in limbo and at risk of being homeless.
Employees with long-term illnesses like cancer report not being able to pay for their drug co-payments without their paychecks.
Parents with kids who have medical conditions are having difficulty paying their medical bills.
Employees report not being able to file for unemployment because their income must first be verified by the state, but there are no staff in the agency personnel office to verify that information.
Some have to terminate a family member’s caregiver.
Employees looking to buy a house can’t.
Furloughed workers have to work a second job, like baking cheesecakes, to pay bills.
Several TSA employees have either quit or are looking for a new job as they can’t afford to work without pay.
Law enforcement officers cancelled Christmas and have to do dangerous work without pay.
To make ends meet, employees have resorted to selling their belongings on Craig’s list, Facebook, and eBay and set up a GoFundMe page.
Federal scientists report not being allowed to tend to their projects like watering their plants, losing months worth of research.
Employees who are parents have to find a new daycare for their kids as their daycare is shutdown, adding a strain to their commute.
The financial strain from the shutdown makes life even harder for the families of federal employees who are deployed, like those in the Coast Guard.
Federal employees can’t meet their child support obligation, affecting kids especially those with special needs.
TSA officers and air traffic controllers are currently working without pay. If more TSA employees quit their jobs, that could endanger the flying public.
FEMA has suspended emergency services provide by private contractors, potentially affecting disaster relief efforts.
Millions of children, people with low-income, seniors, people with disabilities are facing cuts to their food assistance.
Local governments operating various federal-funded programs like food stamps and disaster relief efforts are hurting.
Farmers and small businesses cannot get loans or assistance.
People looking to buy a house won’t have their loans approved as loan applications are backed by the Federal Housing Agency under the shutdown HUD.
It’s not clear whether people will get their tax refunds.
Employees of federal contractors, many of whom work in low-wage jobs like janitors and food service workers, are facing financial hardships and may not get back pay for the duration of the shutdown.
People’s vacations are ruined as museums and zoos are closed.
Toilets and trashcans are overflowing at national parks and monuments that are open, creating unsanitary conditions and health concerns.
Small businesses are not getting paid for their government orders and wondering if they should send workers home or how they’re going to pay them.
A federal court vendor is facing eviction if she can’t pay rent on time in February.
Some daycare facilities are located in federal buildings that are closed. Daycare workers who can’t work because of the shutdown will not get their backpay. If they have to go work at a different location, they will have to shoulder transit costs.
Applications for new craft beer labels won’t be approved as Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is shutdown.