Washington D.C. – The personal and economic toll of the two-week partial government shutdown will continue to escalate until Congress and the administration resolve their differences and re-open all federal agencies, according to the National Treasury Employees Union.
NTEU National President Tony Reardon sent a letter to every member of the 116th Congress, which began today, urging them to pass appropriations bills as soon as possible and end the harmful shutdown.
“As this shutdown drags on, federal workers are becoming increasingly worried about when they will receive their next paycheck and how they will be able to pay their mortgage, rent, student loans and credit card bills,” Reardon wrote.
Some of the NTEU-represented agencies affected by the lapse in appropriations are IRS, Customs and Border Protection, Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, National Park Service, Securities and Exchange Commission and many others.
Employees are cutting back on personal spending, taking out loans, seeking other forms of income or applying for unemployment, just to make ends meet. Some union members have federal jobs that require them to make official purchases and they are worried they won’t be reimbursed in time to pay the bills.
“We are further concerned that some in the administration and in Congress do not recognize what it means for employees to go without pay,” Reardon wrote. “Shutdowns are hardest on those with the least means, who cannot float government purchases and live on savings while they go without several paychecks.”
Reardon’s letter also called the president’s decision to implement a pay freeze for federal employees in 2019 “demoralizing and cruel.”
Also this week, as part of a coalition of organizations representing federal employees, NTEU was part of a separate letter to Capitol Hill asking for a quick end to the disastrous shutdown.
The letter from the Federal-Postal Coalition was sent to every member of Congress. The Coalition includes 30 organizations representing more than 5 million active and retired federal employees.
“Like most Americans, federal employees have financial obligations that cannot be placed on hold and many cannot afford to be locked out of their jobs or go without their paychecks,” the letter states.
The absence of federal workers has interrupted a wide variety of federal services.
“The shutdown is directly affecting agencies that support victims of natural disasters, provide aviation and border security, ensure economic vitality through legal trade and travel, assist taxpayers, allow businesses to grow and expand, keep our communities safe and guard our prisons, welcome visitors and keep our national parks clean, and make sure that the food we eat and the products we use are safe for consumption,” the organizations wrote.
NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments.