Hundreds of thousands of federal workers stationed across the country weren’t paid Friday, a milestone in what became the longest government shutdown in U.S. history the following day.
On Tuesday, employees of the Coast Guard — whose agency advised them to hold garage sales to make ends meet — will miss their first paychecks.
President Donald Trump initiated the shutdown in December when he refused to sign legislation funding several government agencies unless Congress gave him more than $5 billion toward a wall on the southern border.
Trump has said the federal employees on furlough or working without pay — including members of the Secret Service — support the shutdown.
His top economic adviser, Kevin Hassett, said those workers are “better off.”
“A huge share of government workers were going to take vacation days, say, between Christmas and New Year’s. And then we have a shutdown, and so they can’t go to work, and so then they have the vacation, but they don’t have to use their vacation days,” Hassett, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, told PBS. “And then they come back, and then they get their back pay. Then they’re — in some sense, they’re better off.”
Meanwhile, there are thousands of federal workers in the capital region who are now applying for unemployment assistance — hardly a day at the beach.
But the shutdown’s impact is spreading beyond Washington and the federal workforce, to their families and communities and into the daily lives of many Americans. Here are some examples how the pain of the shutdown is spreading:
Staff at Trump’s Office of National Drug Control Policy — which American Bridge discovered in 2017 had hired a recent graduate with no experience to one of its most senior positions — are furloughed as the nationwide opioid epidemic continues. (Politico, 1/8/19)
Mallory Lorge, an Interior Department employee in Wisconsin who has Type 1 diabetes, said she is rationing her insulin because she cannot afford the $300 copay. (NBC News, 1/13/19)
The shutdown could delay drugs treating depression, diabetes and multiple sclerosis, as the Food and Drug Administration — which has furloughed tens of thousands of employees — will run out of its remaining funding in three weeks. (STAT, 1/14/19)
Federal workers with depleted savings accounts are grappling with making mortgage payments and paying their bills. (MSNBC, 1/13/19)
Instead of saving taxpayer money, the shutdown will end up costing billions of dollars in lost productivity, lost revenue and back pay for furloughed employees. According to S&P, the shutdown cost the government $6 billion — more than the amount of funding Trump is demanding for the border wall — if it lasts another two weeks. (Forbes, 1/11/19)
More than 50,000 Coast Guard employees — most of them service members — won’t be paid Tuesday, their first missed paycheck during the shutdown. (Military Times, 1/14/19)
After Transportation Security Administration agents called in sick en masse, airports in Atlanta, Miami and Washington have closed screening lines, causing hours of delays. On Jan. 2, when 5 percent of TSA agents called out, a passenger in Atlanta carried a loaded gun onto a flight to Tokyo. (Politico, 1/14/19; New York Times, 1/141/19)
The National Transportation Safety Board hasn’t been able to investigate fatal plane and automobile crashes during the shutdown and has stopped investigating current cases. (Washington Post, 1/9/18)
Trash and human waste have been building up at national parks, forcing the National Park Service to commit some money dedicated for maintenance to cleaning up messes. (National Geographic, 1/7/19)
The National Science Foundation has stopped giving out grants. most employees at the NOAA, NASA and U.S. Geological Survey and 40 percent of FDA employees are furloughed, meaning research has essentially stopped. (Science News, 1/12/19)