Government Workers Voice Their Frustrations As They Struggle During Shutdown
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
In December, President Trump said he would shut down the government if Democrats did not agree to fund his border wall.
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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I am proud to shut down the government for border security.
CORNISH: And 11 days into that shutdown, government workers are anxious and fed up. Wendy Cyprus, whose husband has worked for the Justice Department for more than 20 years, has a message for the president.
WENDY CYPRUS: That is just petty. Like, who turns their back on the people that work for the government?
CORNISH: And many of those people working for the government have felt shamed for not having a bigger financial cushion.
ERIN ROBERTS: People were saying shameful things about we should have a certain amount saved.
CORNISH: That's Erin Roberts in California. Her wife is a recruiter for the Coast Guard, which is not protected from pay freezes during a shutdown. Robert says they got a one-time emergency payment this week, but...
ROBERTS: There's still the threat of not getting paid on the 15.
CORNISH: And the stress stretches from coast to coast.
SARAH WATTERSON: I think a lot of people think, oh, the federal government shut down, that's just Washington - and it's really not.
CORNISH: Sarah Watterson (ph) is the local president for the American Federation of Government Employees in Lenexa, Kan. She says there are restrictions for federal workers looking for extra income.
WATTERSON: You can't do certain jobs if it's connected to what you do for the federal government. It's a violation of ethics.
CORNISH: That's really hard for workers in certain departments like science or medicine.
WATTERSON: It's a very distinct skill set, and it's kind of a small world.
CORNISH: Chris Wall works for the Environmental Protection Agency in Honolulu. He says he's sick of federal workers being used as a political bargaining tool.
CHRIS WALL: It just feels like a kick in the face every time, like we don't matter or something.
CORNISH: Last week, the Office of Personnel Management circulated a letter with tips for federal workers who couldn't pay rent or bills. Tyler Dayne, a government program analyst here in Washington, found it unhelpful.
TYLER DAYNE: It was kind of shocking to see, like, you should offer to trade services to your landlord when it's like, I have a job to pay my rent, and it's working for the federal government.
CORNISH: Dayne says she doesn't have a lot of financial options.
DAYNE: I would have to use credit cards probably or, like, ask family members.
CORNISH: Watterson says there's a feeling of being abandoned in the federal workforce right now.
WATTERSON: To have to go and beg for mercy is kind of insulting.
CORNISH: Congress gets back to work on January 3. Without any kind of deal before then, it will be Day 13 of the government shutdown. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.