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Not again. Federal workers who`ve weathered past government shutdowns brace for yet another ordeal
Sep 26

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) __ John Hubert, an airport security officer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, recalls helping fellow Transportation Security Administration workers get essentials from food banks when they worked without pay during the last government shutdown. By the end of the 35-day ordeal, he needed the same help himself.

Steve Reaves, a union leader for workers at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, went through three government shutdowns while working at FEMA, and remembers having to pull money out of his retirement early to make ends meet during that last one in 2018-19.

Jessica LaPointe, a Social Security Administration worker from Madison, Wisconsin, says she had to rely on financial help from friends and family during the 16-day October 2013 shutdown. In anticipation of the next one, she`s already postponing a planned family vacation to Disney World.

Across the country, federal workers still stung by the memories of past government shutdowns are grimacing and bracing for another potential extended closure. It`s a test not only of their ability to stay financially afloat, but also of their commitment to public service.

"We're continuously put on the chopping block every year. It's ridiculous," said Hubert, 42, who has worked at TSA for 21 years. "We should not be put in this position every single year, then used as a bargaining chip to get legislation passed."

With a Saturday deadline looming for lawmakers to approve more federal spending __ a deal that is looking less and less likely __ workers familiar with the exercise in Washington gridlock are increasingly worried.

Hubert, a leader in the TSA workers` union within the American Federation of Government Employees, representing 1,400 members in his local, is preparing for what now feels like an inevitability __ another extended period of work without pay.

"Just like other Americans, we`ve still got to pay our bills, regardless of what's going on with Congress," he said. "Officers with children, single parents are going to be dramatically affected if a shutdown continues over a long period of time."

The White House and congressional Democrats, along with some Republicans, warn that a shutdown could be devastating for people who rely on the government for everyday services while putting a stop to paychecks for federal workers themselves and undermining America's standing in the world.

"There are real consequences to real people in a real way when there is a shutdown,`` Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said at a White House press briefing on Monday.

By The Associated Press, Copyright 2023

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