Federal Workers, Some in Trump Country, Begin to Feel the Bite of the President's Shutdown

As thousands of furloughed federal employees worry about when their next paycheck will arrive, their bills are piling up.

As of Saturday, the federal government has been shut down for two weeks – a full pay cycle for federal workers, reports The New York Times.

If it continues through Monday, it will become the longest shutdown in United States history, the Times said.

"They have to realize that this affects everyday people," said Ray Coleman Jr. about politicians hoping to strike a deal with President Donald Trump. Coleman is a corrections officer at a Florida federal prison and a union president. "It affects the boots on the ground. To me, it's like a political chess game that they're playing, and we seem to be pawns."

Federal agencies provide furloughed federal workers – numbering in the thousands – a letter to forward to creditors explaining the government shut-down as it enters its third week. But it may not help those awaiting their next paycheck.

"It means absolutely nothing to them," said Nora Brooks, 61, of Philadelphia, accustomed to helping others solve their problems from her Internal Revenue Service customer service job, in an Associated Press interview.

As Trump continues to insist he will not reopen the government unless he gets $5bn to build a short section of border wall, many furloughed federal employees face uncertainty because no one knows how long the shutdown will continue, reported the AP.

As furloughed workers call their mortgage and utility companies and try to anticipate their regular household budgets, stress increases.

Brooks has been on furlough for 13 days. Dedicated to her job, she last entered information for a taxpayer waiting for a return on her office computer on Dec. 21 – four days before Christmas.

As receipts pile up, workers like Brooks have little recourse. Brooks said she has already used some health savings.

"You try not to freak out, but I don't have any control over what's going to happen next month," Brooks told the AP. "I'm second guessing. Should I have had a whole nest egg. Well, no, my pay doesn't allow for that."

Employees are being forced to make choices between which bills to pay, as Tomas Kaselionis told The New York Times. He works in typhoon recovery for the Federal Emergency Management Agency on an island in the Pacific.

"For me, it's do I consider a car payment or do I pay the gas bill or the phone bill?" said Mr. Kaselionis. "Those are conversations within the next week that I have to have with my wife."

Another federal employee, Amanda Wagner, 37, of Takoma Park, Maryland, will not draw a paycheck until the government reopens. She is a Securities and Exchange Commission branch chief in Washington, D.C. Her husband, Nelson Wagner, 36, works for the Justice Department and awaits his next paycheck, too, for their family. They have a mortgage, two children and credit card bills.

"The future is scary," Amanda Wagner told AP, adding that it helps that her children's day cares are letting her defer payments during the shutdown.

Other fallout from the shutdown include a slowdown of federal court proceedings. The Times reports that the Justice Department has requested a delay for a hearing on a suit brought by the NAACP over the Trump administration's census preparations. Also, a key EPA hearing on lead contamination in East Chicago, Indiana, was canceled.

On Twitter, users are posting other kinds of consequences as federal employees cope:

On January 3, the Federal Communications Commission posted that it "is suspending most operations during the partial funding lapse." For more information, check this link.

One individual, self-identified as Patrick, a retired IT Tech Net Security, tweeted on Saturday one interesting development due to the FCC suspension: "The government shutdown is driving users to illegal router settings."

Meanwhile, unemployment benefits claims have increased. The Times reports that Washington, D.C., has received about 900 claims since the shutdown, Maryland received 637 and Colorado federal workers filed more than 350 unemployment claims.