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As Government Shutdown Continues, Affected Workers Worry About Bills

“We will be forced to close the Southern Border entirely if the Obstructionist Democrats do not give us the money to finish the Wall & also change the ridiculous immigration laws that our Country is saddled with,” United States President Donald Trump recently stated on Twitter, ignoring the true cost of the wall, his previous pledge to take responsibility for the government shutdown, the negative impact to the economy of a border shutdown, whether or not such an action is legal, and the deal previously made in congress to keep the government open.

“To be honest, it’s not a wall,” outgoing Chief of Staff John Kelly said to Molly O’Toole of the LA Times. Kelly would further explain his comments during the interview:

The president still says ‘wall’ — oftentimes frankly he’ll say ‘barrier’ or ‘fencing,’ now he’s tended toward steel slats. But we left a solid concrete wall early on in the administration, when we asked people what they needed and where they needed it.

However, as the President continues to demand congressional funding for the ‘wall’ a recent poll by Harvard CAPS/Harris found “56 percent of respondents do not support the president’s proposal to construct a wall along the southern border, compared to 44 percent who do.” When asked about a ‘security barrier’ along the border “46 percent of respondents support that proposal, while 54 percent oppose it.”

While a political issue, reporting by CNN illustrates the larger problem with a government shutdown:

For the 380,000 federal employees on furlough and the other 420,000 working without pay, this means it’s time to start making plans for how to pay January bills without the promise of their next paycheck as part of the government remains shutdown.

They also drew attention to a tweet from the US Office of Personnel Management.

One such letter has drawn criticism for suggesting workers do painting or carpentry work for their landlords for reduced or forgiven rent payments. Jeff Waldorf, Host TYT Nation breaks down some of the criticism from the suggestion.

“Because people who have to do chores for their landlord in order to make rent, happen to have a personal attorney on retainer. Maybe they should just not tweet advice at all, because this advice is really bad,” Waldorf said in response to one of the sample letters.  Since the public backlash, the OPM has walked back the posting of the sample letter suggesting workers perform chores:

“OPM – itself acting with limited resources during the furlough period – inadvertently posted a legacy document from the 2013 shutdown. Although most federal employees have yet to miss a paycheck, OPM recognizes that many employees are concerned about the financial implications of a continued lapse. As such, OPM sought to provide a set of templates and information that could be used proactively by employees to address potential financial challenges, in the event that Congress does not resolve the lapse in appropriations before the end of the next pay cycle. Since discovering the out-of-date documents, OPM updated the website to reflect current information, and regrets any unintended concern caused by legacy documentation.”

“The number of outsourced federal jobs has increased substantially in recent years, and contract employees who are not working during the government shutdown are unlikely to be paid for the time they are furloughed,” stated National Public Radio (NPR) detailing the plight of workers affected by the loss of pay. “The partial government shutdown is even affecting active-duty members of the U.S. Coast Guard. While it is part of the U.S. military, the Coast Guard is under the Department of Homeland Security, not the Defense Department,” the outlet would continue.

As the new year approaches, there hasn’t yet been enough movement during negotiations to suggest when a resolution may come. Hopefully, relief will come for workers sooner rather than later.

 

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Walter Yeates

Walter Yeates is a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter who embedded at Standing Rock with military Veterans and First People in December 2016. He covers a range of topics at Citizen Truth and is open for tips and suggestions. Twitter: www.twitter.com/GentlemansHall or www.twitter.com/SmoothJourno Muckrack: https://muckrack.com/walteryeates

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