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‘My 10-year-old offered to cut back spending’: US workers struggle amid longest government shutdown

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'My 10-year-old offered to cut back spending': US workers struggle amid longest government shutdownIt was something his 10-year-old daughter said that hammered home the impact of the US government shutdown for Victor Payes.  The security guard at Los Angeles’s main airport had already been working for free for a fortnight when Haley, the oldest of his two girls, spoke up.  “I understand if there are certain things we shouldn’t pay for right now,” Mr Payes recalled Haley telling him. She was offering to cut back to help the family.  He waved away the concern to reassure his daughters. “I just told them there’s nothing to worry about,” Mr Payes told The Daily Telegraph. “We’ve always been okay.”  But the financial strain is real. This weekend, with the partial government shutdown having hit the three-week mark, Mr Payes will not be receiving the pay cheque he is due.  Protesters hold signs during a rally and protest by government workers and concerned citizens against the government shutdown on Friday, January 11 Credit: Joseph PREZIOSO / AFP Throughout the politicking in Washington DC, the 29-year-old has been doing what he has done for the last decade – driving 20 minutes to the airport and checking bags to keep passengers safe.  A single parent, Mr Payes has been sharing one bedroom with Haley and Serena, 7, while trying to keep their family afloat amid California’s high cost of living.  But after working since before Christmas without pay, Mr Payes – whose job on average comes with an annual salary of around $40,000 – is looking at approaching bills with mounting concern.  There is the loan payment and insurance on his car, both due in the next 10 days and costing around $500. There is next month’s rent. There is food for the children.  “What I’m holding out for is that we’ll make it through and Congress and the president can see that some families will really hurt if this goes a long time,” Mr Payes said. He does not know when he will next be paid.  Mr Payes is one of 800,000 federal government workers who will not be getting their pay cheques this weekend. They are prison officers, border guards, government attorneys and taxmen.  They work at the Coast Guard, the FBI, the National Park Service and Nasa, to name but a few. They are the people bearing the brunt of Donald Trump’s shutdown.  Mr Trump, the US president, has been accused of failing to understand their pain as the shutdown passed the 22-day mark on Saturday, making it the longest in American history.  This week he has doubled down on his promise not to sign any spending bill passed by Congress unless it includes $5.7 billion for building his Mexico border wall – something the Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, have refused to do.  The stalemate has led Mr Trump to consider declaring a national emergency and building his wall without Congress’s approval. His team are reportedly looking at raiding a $13.9 billion relief fund for hurricanes and wildfires to finance the move.  Federal air traffic controller union members protest the partial U.S. federal government shutdown in a rally at the US Capitol in Washington DC Credit: Jonathan Ernst /REUTERS The workers affected may eventually be paid for their shifts once the shutdown is over if Congress decides to take that move, but there is no guarantee. One leading Democrat has joked that Mr Trump – the son of a New York property tycoon – thinks the workers impacted by the shutdown can just be bailed out by their fathers.  He has shot back that many actually support his drive to build the wall. (The president has referenced social media posts but without citation.) Antony Tseng, 46, is another government worker not getting properly paid. He is an environmental engineer who cleans polluted rivers and lakes for the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA].  Mr Tseng has been forced to stay at home without pay – ‘furloughed’, to use the technical term – while the shutdown is in place, like around half of the 800,000 affected workers.  He does not want to get drawn into politics as a government employee but is clearly frustrated by the impasse in Washington DC.  Antony Tseng, an environmental engineer with the EPA, has been forced to stay at home without pay during the government shutdown Credit: Neville Elder  “I don’t think people should be used as political bargaining chips for a new project or a new wall or a new agenda,” he said.  Like Mr Payes, Mr Tseng is a single parent with two daughters – though his are older and at university. The family is reliant on his income.  He is due to get one week’s pay this weekend thanks to the EPA’s cash reserves, but will still be considerably out of pocket with mortgage payments, car bills and food expenses all round the corner.  “It is definitely very stressful, definitely very anxious,” Mr Tseng said, expressing fears that his credit rating will get hit or fines levied if he misses any payments.  “Being able to stay positive day to day as the ship slowly sinks is kind of how I’m looking at it at the moment.  “The best I can do is make sure that our voice is heard, that people know these actions are affecting real people. Hopefully level heads will prevail on this.”

Source: Yahoo.com