As I have discussed here before, I’m a Federal Employee. And I’m not sure how much press this is getting outside of the DC Metro area (the DMV as it is often called, though I believe that acronym is taken by a much more painful entity), but we’re looking at a government shutdown. Why? Because Congress can’t decide on a budget. That’s right, we’ve been operating without an approved budget for half the year already.
In general, Federal employees get trashed a lot for our pay and benefits, but in general, there are a lot of hardworking federal employees who are going to be furloughed for an undetermined amount of time because people can’t come to an agreement on a budget. I am okay with furloughs to try to save money (something that’s also on the table as a possibility) but this sort of situation is just ridiculous.
What happens to the Federal employee who is furloughed due to a shutdown? Well, you just have to sit around and wait for notification that you can come back to work. You can’t go anywhere because the budget could be passed at any time, meaning you need to be back the next day. You can consider getting another job to tide you over, but there are restrictions on what government employees are allowed to do outside of work (we have to fill out an “outside activities” form) so it’s always a risk (though bartending for a few days probably won’t hurt you).
I’m lucky – even though I just bought a house, I will be okay if I lose a week or two of pay. I keep a solid emergency fund, and since I use YNAB and live of of last month’s income, I won’t even feel the pinch until next month. The last time this happened, the Federal employees who were furloughed got retroactively paid. I don’t expect that to happen this time, and I don’t think it should happen. And maybe I can say that because I’m in a stable financial position, but given the hatred directed towards us already, I don’t think it makes sense to pay us for doing nothing. Does that hurt the people struggling to make ends meet? Absolutely, and I don’t know how to rectify that.
In general, I don’t like uncertainty. I’m a planner. I like to know what’s going on and what’s going to happen next. I like schedules and lists. So this uncertainty makes me very uncomfortable. But I’m exasperated that it’s April and we still don’t have an approved Federal budget. Get to work, Congress.