U.S.

Government Shutdown: Federal Workers Across U.S. Are Launching GoFundMe Accounts to Help Pay Their Bills

Caught in the crossfire of the ongoing partial government shutdown, dozens of furloughed federal workers have turned to GoFundMe to appeal for financial support to help pay their bills.

From military veterans and Coast Guard members to small family business owners affected by the government shutdown, federal workers hope to raise thousands to support themselves and their families amid fears that the shutdown could go on for weeks, if not months.

Read more: IRS to process tax refunds despite shutdown, date to begin filing 2018 returns still undetermined

"As you may know we are in the middle of a government shutdown. How this personally affects me and my family is that while I am still required to go to work like normal, I am not currently receiving a paycheck," one GoFundMe page appearing to have been set up by a federal worker in Malden, Massachusetts, reads. 

"The last monies received was Dec 31st. And from then on I will not receive a paycheck for time worked until the government reopens," the page, which has so far raised $456 of its $10,000 goal, explains.

"The president has already said he could go months or even a year under this shutdown. Until this shutdown ends, each day funds are getting more and more tight and will eventually run out and I will no longer be able to pay rent or utilities and buy food. Any amount you are willing to donate will be greatly appreciated." 

On Friday, President Donald Trump, who triggered the shutdown on December 22 after Democrats refused to pass a spending bill that would give the U.S. leader $5.6 billion in funding to build his border wall, warned that the shutdown could go on for "a long time," even years, despite hundreds of thousands of federal workers currently being left without paychecks. 

One page, claiming to be set up by an unpaid worker with the Transportation Security Administration said that "every day is more anxiety and more stress, especially when you are a federal worker on furlough."

"Paycheck was very short last pay. Don't even know when the next check will be coming. Rent is due. And other bills are due. Bills will not wait for the next paycheck if it comes in March," the page, which has so far raised $40 of its $55,000 goal, states. "No one knows when [the government is] going to be open again and I am forced to go to work for free. How is this ok?"

While many have expressed frustration with the government for the freeze on their paychecks, some federal workers appealing for financial help during the shutdown have expressed support for Trump's border wall. 

"My husband is a veteran and I am a stay at home mom to our 3 blessings!  Not to mention he is a federal agent now. He still has to report to work like many others but no checks," a mother  in San Antonio, Texas, states on a GoFundMe page set up for her family. "His last one was short because that day was after they declared the shutdown," she adds. 

The mother, who says she and her husband have three small children, ages 7, 5 and 3, says that having to turn to crowdfunding was "something we never intended to [do] and then this happened. And right during the holidays.

"We still don’t know when it’ll open up and things will get right and as the wife and mom I can’t help but worry about how long will this take...." she states. 

Asserting that her husband works "behind the lines, protecting us," the San Antonio mother writes: "Ask anyone that works the job my husband works and they all will say without a doubt we need the wall because it’s getting worse and worse.

"So please everyone do research and if you don’t understand do more research or ask someone. Don’t just bash the president because you don’t like him for whatever your reasons are!"

While a number of GoFundMes set up by federal workers appear to have raised hundreds of dollars within days, not all of the responses to their plights have been supportive, with some commenters asking whether workers plan to "give the donations back" once they do receive their back pay.

This week, the partial government shutdown became one of the top three longest government shutdowns in U.S. history, entering its 18th day on Tuesday. The longest shutdown, which started in December 1995. lasted 21 days. 

If a deal is not struck by the end of the week and continues into Saturday, the current closures will represent the longest government shutdown on record. 

Both Democrats and Trump have dug their heels into the ground when it comes to border wall funding, with Trump demanding $5.6 billion and Democrats insisting that they are willing to provide additional money for border security, but not for the construction of a wall. 

Standing firm, Trump threatened over the weekend that if his demands were not met, he could declare a national emergency in order to bypass Congress and secure funding for his wall, despite the inevitable legal challenges such a move would trigger.

"You think I like doing this? I don't like doing this, but we have no choice, we have to have it," Trump told reporters as he boarded Marine One on Sunday.

The U.S. leader dismissed concerns over federal workers going unpaid during the shutdown, saying, without offering evidence, that many government employees supported his border wall bid. "They will make an adjustment because they want to see the border taken care of," Trump said. 

As the shutdown continues with no end in sight, however, furloughed workers will not be the only ones hard hit by the closures. In addition to being affected by the lack of access to government services not deemed "essential," millions of people in the U.S. who rely on food stamps are likely to see their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) disrupted if the government shutdown carries on into February. 

GettyImages-967856166 President Donald Trump sings the National Anthem with a U.S. Army chorus during a Celebration of America event on the south lawn of the White House, June 5, 2018. With the government shutdown still underway, furloughed federal workers have set up GoFundMe accounts asking for financial support. Win McNamee/Getty

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