Viewpoints: Frustration and Concern Grows Among Those Impacted by the Shutdown

Viewpoints: Frustration and Concern Grows Among Those Impacted by the Shutdown

Kevin Powell, Reston:

"It seems like Congress, even before Trump, has resolved itself to government shutdowns as par for the course. With Trump and a divided Congress, I didn't think it would get better. My action plan has been to limit my spending … As a government contractor, I ran into this in the past. Learn by example. I'm job searching so I can get out of government contracting. I am the sole income. The shutdown has impacted my marriage and my family. I just wish legislators would think country first, constituents second — those who would vote for them."

George Becerra, Burke:

"I'm a furloughed federal employee, home with no pay. I've been proactive; paid all bills up to date in December. I've moved things around with my flexible spending. I changed my dental appointment from January to later in the calendar so as not to have to pay the deductible, keeping the focus instead on my family. I limited holiday spending, didn't splurge. I'm not paying annual memberships due in January to organizations and my HOA. My wife is a government contractor. My daughter, 8, is asking. Kids see, and we are home. The solution would be Lindsey Graham. Reopen the government for three weeks. Get people back to work and politicians can hash it out."

Cher Muzyk, Nokesville, Md.:

"I'm the wife of a government attorney who has been furloughed but is deemed essential. He will eventually receive the back pay, but there are bills to pay now. There are little things we want to do; we are not. Small things make a difference when you have little children, but all extracurricular things are canceled. We have a two-month nest egg for payments as long as we cut back. We called the credit union. My solution is simple. I don't understand why the border wall has to be coupled with the budget. Separate those two arguments. Resolve the budget. Sit. Get working families paid and back to work. I would support anything, even temporary. Eighty-three percent of Americans are not affected, so there is no sense of urgency. There is a need for a human face on it. The uncertainty is terrifying. The divisiveness from our administration is not what I'm getting from my community. People help neighbors."

Kathryn Oakley, retired Coast Guard, Town of Herndon:

"This shutdown is different. Our active duty members in the United States Coast Guard get paid every two weeks. The last time was Dec. 31, 2018. They will not get paid [Jan. 15]. For Coast Guard retirees, it is not clear if we will get a check, because funds are tied to Appropriations Funding. The Coast Guard is under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. We are taking things day to day. I went to Navy Federal Credit Union to talk about the current situation, and they shared information about their Government Shutdown Assistance, 0 percent APR Loan. I'm not worried about myself. I'm worried about the young men and women in the Coast Guard, working without pay. They cannot get a part-time job. There are two bills introduced. In the Senate, Bill 21, "Pay Our Coast Guard Act" and in the House of Representatives (HR) 367, "Pay our Coast Guard Parity Act.” The United States Coast Guard is left out. We are small and do not have visibility. We work 24/7. We have real-time missions; respond to natural disasters. I'm concerned for those who will skip or make partial payments.”

Keven Leblanc, Town of Herndon:

"Federal employees are no doubt impacted, but the effects are felt much further. Federal Contractors, which is a primary basis of the D.C. metro economy, suffer significantly. If people on contract can't report, they have to take leave without pay or be furloughed. While that seems unfair of a company, a shutdown this long can drive small businesses out of business if all their work is tied to Federal contracts, and many are. Even large business don't keep people on paid status without some reason, such as the ability to work on special projects or proposals, but that can only cover a limited number of people for so long, assuming they even have the skills that fit. Large companies have shareholders they are accountable to and must maintain a profit. The economic ripples then extend to the larger community, as the economic base no longer has money to buy goods or services, eat at restaurants. ... For some who live paycheck to paycheck, whether a federal employee, contractor or private employee in a federal-employment concentration, it can mean defaulting on loans or rent, not eating, not getting required medicines or healthcare or the heat and safety from the cold they require.”