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Local Federal Workers Prepare For Potential Shutdown

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Another day, another press conference on Capitol Hill, yet still no serious negotiations are underway to avert a shutdown. While the Senate passed a bill Saturday to fund the government through mid-November, House leaders are promising to change it and send it right back.

"It's like a game of chicken," says Melissa York, an indexer for the National Library of Medicine. If a shutdown happens lawmakers still draw their salaries, but York and hundreds of thousands of federal employees won't. Besides the potential for lost income, York bemoans how federal workers are being portrayed.

"They make us the punching bag and are always saying bad things about us," she says. "I think that tends to make people think that we are bad people."

Michael Skerker is an assistant professor at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. He's a civilian along with about 300 other professors. All of those civilians are facing forced time off in the event of a shutdown.

"It's anxiety producing," says Skerker.

He's already been furloughed for six days this summer, which means a couple thousand dollars in lost income. And if the government's lights do flip off, most workers aren't expecting any back pay from this divided Congress. Skerker says it's hard to plan for the unknown.

"Now with the potential of this happening again, it's disconcerting and frustrating, because we don't know what's going to happen," says Skerker. "We've been asked to make contingency plans about having our officer colleagues cover our classes or try to figure things out, but we don't know if it's going to happen or not. And we don't know if it does happen, how long it will last."


Matt's story was informed by WAMU's Public Insight Network. It's a way for people to share their stories with us and for us to reach out for input on upcoming stories.
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