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Federal Employees Share How The Shutdown Is Affecting Them As It Goes On


Parts of the government have been closed for more than a month now while President Trump and Democrats in Congress argue over funding a border wall. Meanwhile, the partial shutdown has wreaked havoc on the lives of some 800,000 federal employees. They are about to miss a second paycheck.


We checked in today with some federal workers whom we met just after the shutdown had begun.

PAUL EMIL KIEFER JR: My name is Paul Emil (ph) Kiefer Jr. I work for the Internal Revenue Service in Austin, Texas. I am now considered an accepted employee, meaning that I am now critical to the mission. That still means I'm not getting paid.

Fortunately, I have enough money to make the next rent payment. But after that, I have to worry about my phone bill, my credit card payment. I have to worry about my insurance payments, my medicine 'cause I am a diabetic. And if I can't pay for my medicine, that's practically a death sentence.

LORI OTT: My name is Lori Ott. I'm a revenue agent for the IRS. I live in Lyman, Wyo. We're digging into savings a little bit. I have an adult daughter who has - who's disabled. And I cut back on her care to save some money. And then I'm home anyway, so I can take care of her myself more. We did get paid on the 31, so that was a nice surprise - but didn't get paid on the 14. And it's not looking good for the 28 right now. I'll be OK. I - (laughter) it can't last forever, but I can get through the 28.

KELLY: While both Congress and the White House say federal employees will get back pay once the government reopens, whenever that may be, government contractors, though, have gotten no such reassurances. Here's what some of them told us.

RICHARD NEWMAN: I'm Richard Newman. I own Chinook Flight services at Everett, Wash., at Paine Field. And I administer airman knowledge testing for the FAA. With the FAA local offices being shut down, people who require certifications cannot proceed onward to the certification. So they're not coming in for testing.

So I've had to stop doing certain activities to improve business, to make repairs to the facility or upgrades to the facility. And on a personal level, that means I also had to cut back on groceries in order to make my rent.

NAOMI RACHEL: My name is Naomi Rachel, and I'm the co-director of Milo Papers, which is a company that creates interpreted products for the national parks. And we live in Boulder, Colo. So that's all through the federal government. So obviously we're dead.

Nobody's ever going to order until the government opens up because our clients have even gotten - we talked to the buyer at Death Valley. And he said, you know, we don't have a budget, and we don't know what - when we're ever going to have a budget.

CORNISH: Words of uncertainty from some of the people affected by the partial government shutdown. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.