Government Shutdown: How Yorktown Families Are Affected

The government shutdown has taken a toll on Yorktown families.

Courtesy of Bethesda Magazine

The government shutdown has taken a toll on Yorktown families.

Joseph Ramos, Sentry Staff Reporter

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The United States federal government was shutdown between Dec. 22- Jan. 25, 2018. As a result, approximately 800,000 employees of nine federal agencies have been deprived of a paycheck. Regardless of who one chooses to blame for the shutdown, which is a direct result of a lack of designation of funds by Congress, its significance is undeniable. Arlington County and surrounding counties have been specifically affected by the shutdown’s ramifications as over 280,000 federal employees reside in and around the D.C.-Virginia-Maryland (DMV) area, according to the Washington Post.

In the Yorktown community, many students have parents who were either furloughed or working without pay. As a result, students have been forced to question their family’s long-term financial stability while also witnessing the direct effects that a failure to compromise by those in power has on the American people.

For Yorktown parents who were not in work during the shutdown, the inability to complete one’s job that is intended to better the nation only worsens the effects that the shutdown has. Junior Lauren Flynn, whose mother is employed at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and was furloughed as a result of the shutdown, recognizes the importance of government work and how her mother wishes to fulfill her duties as a  public servant, but cannot.

“It is hard because [Flynn’s mother] wants to be at work and doing her job. People in government jobs are meant to be helping others, but that cannot be done if the ways to do so are in shutdown,” Flynn said.

Fears have also arisen in Flynn about the seemingly unending nature of the political stalemate that prevents the government from reopening. President Donald Trump and Congressional Democrats’ continued disagreement over the allocation of funds towards the construction of a wall along the U.S.’s southern border appears to not have a distinct end in sight with both sides not wanting to lose what has become a defining political battle. As a result, the shutdown and its widespread effects will continue to be felt by government employees.

“It is scary because there is no end in the foreseeable future, yet the issues that the shutdown has caused only get worse everyday. So many people depend on a government paycheck that a shutdown of this length is actively harming the nation,” Flynn said.

Junior Charlie Blake, whose father works for the General Services Administration (GSA) and mother works for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), has grown frustrated with the government as a lack of cooperation has led to the welfare of many being harmed.   

“Those in power are not working together to find solutions that will protect the border while also keeping the government operating. The government needs to work as a team as soon as possible so that everyone can go back to work and be paid,” Blake said.

Both of Blake’s parents worked without pay and, while their altruism maintained the services that their respective agencies provide, a continued shutdown meant that a lack of compensation for this work would eventually result in financial concern.  

“If the shutdown keeps going, my family will likely face economic uncertainty as we rely on the money from my parents’ work as a main source of income,” Blake said.

The shutdown has also exposed the volatility of government employment, which can quickly turn from stable work to being jobless for weeks. Roary Weis, whose mother works for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and worked without pay, expressed her resentment towards the usage of government jobs as political pawns and acknowledged the fragility of a government paycheck that appears to depend on if government officials can get along.

“Divisions in the government have built up to this shutdown and federal workers and their families are feeling the effects. Even if the government reopens, this shows that [Weis’ mother’s] job is not necessarily secure in the future. Another major disagreement could easily put employees back out of work,” Weis said.

For students living with their parents’ employment in limbo, compromise and action is wanted out of elected officials. Students also conveyed that, while resolving the shutdown at hand, readiness for the future should also be key goal for legislators. The numerous disservices done to government families can be avoided in forthcoming shutdowns if the necessary steps in preparedness are taken.  

“In the future, more backup funds should be prepared in case another shutdown happens. That way the effects will not be as dramatic as they are now. Government leadership on both sides also need to make greater efforts to compromise to avoid sending the government into shutdown again,” Flynn said.

While politicians make carefully balanced maneuvers and attempt to gain leverage in shutdown negotiations, government employees, whose work is meant to improve the general welfare of the nation, went unpaid. If contemporary leaders persist in using government workers as political bargaining chips, the state of the country will only further deteriorate as compromise becomes a lost ideal.


To learn how to receive or provide assistance for those affected by the government shutdown in the DMV area, click the link below:

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