From prison to disaster, federal employees are hectic


With the partial closure of the government, the The longest federal closure in the history of the United StatesFederal employees outside of the broader DC region have a message to Washington: failure to fund creates real problems and, in some cases, hurts security interests.

The closure, which affects funding for the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the State Department, the IRS and other key agencies, requires about 420,000 federal employees to work without pay and about 380,000 more to be transferred. President Trump has threatened to declare a national emergency to fund the wall of his border and potentially put an end to the stalemate, as the conclusion of an agreement with Congress seems less and less likely.

Most affected federal employees missed their first salary on Friday.

"I wish they understand that we do not all live in the Beltway," said Forrest Lanning, head of the "earthquake" and "volcano" program at the Federal Emergency Management Agency in California.

Lanning has spent the last few weeks in Paradise, California, responding to the deadly fire that has killed dozens of people. He was to participate in the construction of FEMA-funded permanent housing in the Northern Mariana Islands, but this trip was delayed indefinitely as closure is underway.

Lanning said the closure did not significantly affect disaster response – at least not yet – but it was destroying the morale of FEMA stakeholders who continued to help disaster victims. without remuneration, he said, and there is some confusion within the agency. fees that the agency is able to cover during the closing. Lanning said that he could work without pay for a salary, but after that, "I really have to start digging."

"It probably will not affect the disaster response capacity, because people who are forced to work are working, but it destroys morale," Lanning said.

"We are in a way the face of the government, and all the bad news comes to us," he added.

Here's what other current and former leaders have to say about the closure and how it affected their jobs and their lives.

Coast Guard Aviator, North Carolina

The Trump administration would work to ensure that Coast Guard workers, who report to the Department of Homeland Security, are paid. But that does not happen yet.

A Coast Guard Airman based on the North Carolina coast said he did not understand how to allow DHS to go without funding to promote safety. His salary on Friday was 0.00. $.

"My wife and I are fine for a few paychecks, but after that, it's not going very well," said the aviator, who was not identified because he does not pretend to express any concerns. 39, political opinion as a Coast Guard employee.

"I am also reminded of the following work as essential work, so I will work without getting paid.I do not understand closing the Department of Homeland Security, which looks after our borders and our country.I help leave the helicopters Coast Guard steal for the Coast Guard to do its duty – for free. "

The aviator was hoping to find another job during the closure, but was informed that he had been transferred to essential staff and that he had to work 10 hours a day this week, making it almost impossible to search for a job. Another source of income. He and his wife, who have a one-year-old child, live with his parents when they build their home for sale, but these plans have been suspended for the time being.

"It must be nice to be a billionaire … not to have to worry about a salary," said the airman about Mr Trump.

Eric Young, President of the Board of Prison Locals of the American Federation of Government Employees

Eric Young has worked for the Bureau of Prisons for 21 years and now represents approximately 33,000 employees of the federal Office of Prison. Young said that not paying correctional officers responsible for the custody of about 151,700 federal inmates, some of whom are convicted of rape and murder, makes no sense.

"That's what has been frustrating for many of our colleagues," said Young. "We have the president for whom many of my colleagues voted under the auspices of the fact that he was going to become president of the law and order." Well, I tell everyone that you do not can not have law and order without the Bureau of Prisons. "

"Here you want a wall on the outside but you're not worried about the interior," added Young.

Federal penitentiaries were already short of staff before the start of the closure, he said, and now, "there is no room for someone to show up." " Federal correctional officers do between $ 26,000 and $ 61,000, and most federal prisons are in Central America, noted Young.

Young is trying to persuade some of the hardest-hit employees, such as a husband and wife who are both federal correctional officers and have a severely disabled son who lives under a fan, to speak up.

"I was trying to make them talk but they are so scared that the agency is not taking revenge against them," he added.

"They are afraid, will they be expelled from their homes?" Young added. "They think that they could possibly lose their son."

National Meteorological Service Forecaster

A National Meteorological Service forecaster who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals from supervisors said that she and her partner were cutting back on their daily expenses and using savings to pay their bills – and wondering if It was necessary to ask for help from the creditors. . She is an outstanding employee, which means that she should work.

But her father recently passed away and, as the only son, she had to leave to take care of her estate. The forecaster said she was grateful to be able to help her family, but the stress was gaining momentum.

"Of course, now that I'm bleeding money by occupying my father's last arrangements, and I do not know how long it will last?" I can not apply for unemployment. I have no guarantee that I will be paid, it becomes unsustainable? "She said.

The closure "made one of the most difficult times of my life even more stressful," she said.

Nevertheless, the forecaster said that she knew the others less well off than she and that she was looking for ways to help them.

"As frightened and precarious as we may be, there are people I know who are much worse off," she said. "I'm also trying to find ways to help these friends."

And after?

We do not know exactly where the dead end ends. The president said Thursday that he was going "probably" and perhaps "100%" declare a national emergency to fund the wall of his border if Congress does not come to an agreement on his wall. Even if it declares a national emergency, Congress still needs to pass legislation to reopen the federal government, and the next federal paycheck would not be before two weeks.

The Senate and the House voted to have the federal employees paid at the end of the shutdown period, and this bill asks Mr. Trump to sign it.

But how long will this stop? "No matter what you need" the president told reporters Wednesday at Capitol Hill.