The Human Toll of the Federal Shutdown
When Congress cannot agree on how to fund the government or specific agencies within it, those agencies will either partially or fully halt their work until an agreement is reached. In the case of the recent government shut down, we’ve saw national parks left unattended, tax filings piled up at the IRS, and restaurants going without FDA mandated food inspections as President Trump demanded that $5 billion be included in this year’s budget resolution for a border wall.
Underneath the shutdown’s obvious impact on government agencies is the impact on federal workers — 800,000 of whom were laid off or worked without pay until the current temporary agreement to reopen the government was signed.
Mallory Lorge, a federal worker in the Department of the Interior, suffers from Type 1 diabetes. For her, being furloughed without pay meant having to ration her insulin because she could no longer afford the $300 copay.
Andrea Caviedes, a federal loan processor, said that being furloughed from her job meant needing to apply for jobs at Walmart and Walgreens to cover bills and rent during the shutdown.
Brittany Sears, a federal correctional officer, is a single mother with a six year old son. For her, the shutdown meant needing to turn off her heat, sell household items, and defer mortgage and car payments in order to stay afloat financially during the shutdown.
LeRoy Smith, an electrician at the Kennedy Space Center, said he and his wife were already living paycheck-to-paycheck before the shutdown happened. Without pay, he looked for temporary work as a way to pay for the expensive prescription medication that his wife needs for a medical condition that gives her seizures.
Federal workers deserve the certainty of a paycheck, and the dignity of being able to provide for themselves and their families. Click here to read the stories of other federal workers who faced challenges and hardship during the record-breaking shutdown.