'We've Missed Out On So Much': Furloughed Workers Respond To Trump's Shutdown Announcement Federal employees are going back to work after 35 days of unpaid furlough. They're ready to get back to work but feel bruised by the budget impasse between the White House and Congress.
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'We've Missed Out On So Much': Furloughed Workers Respond To Trump's Shutdown Announcement

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'We've Missed Out On So Much': Furloughed Workers Respond To Trump's Shutdown Announcement

'We've Missed Out On So Much': Furloughed Workers Respond To Trump's Shutdown Announcement

'We've Missed Out On So Much': Furloughed Workers Respond To Trump's Shutdown Announcement

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Federal employees are going back to work after 35 days of unpaid furlough. They're ready to get back to work but feel bruised by the budget impasse between the White House and Congress.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Going a month without a paycheck if you don't plan to can create lasting financial wounds. NPR's Leila Fadel has been checking in with federal workers.

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: Friday was the second time that Amy Fellows was supposed to get paid and did not.

AMY FELLOWS: Without work and without getting paid, we've missed out on so much.

FADEL: She is a correctional officer in the southwest for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and she welcomed the news that finally there will be money in her account but not for long.

FELLOW: I'm just going to pay my bills and save all that I have.

FADEL: The past month was scary. Fellows is a single mother of three children, and she continued to work full time and overtime with no pay. The bank let her overdraft, but she didn't know how much she could spend before it turned off the tap, so she said no to buying school supplies, no to karate lessons her daughter had been taking, no to toiletries that ran out.

FELLOW: There were times where I was like, well, maybe I should go to the store today and buy this stuff. But then what if that's my last $10 that I'm able to overdraft? I can't do that. I don't get food stamps. I don't - you know, I have to save every dollar to buy food to make sure my kids are eating.

FADEL: Fellows has received donations of food and offers of prayer.

FELLOW: We've had a lot of outreach. It was nice to see that all these people truly care about America.

FADEL: She still skipped meals, though, so her kids had enough, not knowing if she'd be able to replenish the pantry. And she felt hesitant and a little ashamed to take handouts from strangers.

FELLOW: I was always raised to know you go to work, you get paid for what you do, and I don't understand how anybody can shut it down to where we don't get paid for doing our daily jobs.

FADEL: And Fellows says she and her family were punished because of a political fight. Brianna Bedard feels the same way. She's a stay-at-home mom to two young children. Her husband works for the Coast Guard and hasn't been getting paid.

BRIANNA BEDARD: I took my kids to food banks twice this month so, you know, that was a new experience. I had someone in line with me give me some of her food, and it was just the most humbling experience because you don't expect that kind of a thing.

FADEL: She says she's angry at politicians, but the kindness of strangers showed her the best of humanity. It didn't mitigate the stress, though, of stretching every dollar.

BEDARD: We were fortunate in that we didn't reach a point where we had to start taking out loans that require interest and - or late fees and things like that.

FADEL: They were lucky, she says, they had a little bit of savings. But watching the president's speech, all Bedard heard was that in three weeks, she and her family might have to go without pay again.

BEDARD: I definitely am not going to pretend that everything's back to normal. I'm actually going to plan on the government shutting down again on the 15 and make whatever preparations we can.

FADEL: So when the money comes in, she'll save every dollar. She doesn't trust Washington to think about her family, her needs and the needs of hundreds of thousands of other federal workers. Leila Fadel, NPR News.

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