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Federal Workers Turn to GoFundMe as Government Shutdown Wears On

The Daily Beast logo The Daily Beast 1/6/2019 By (Audrey McNamara)
a person standing in front of a building: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters © Provided by The Daily Beast Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

As the government shutdown drags into its 12th day, and nearly 800,000 federal employees across the country don't know when their next paycheck will arrive, some have turned to the crowdsourcing website GoFundMe, asking strangers for assistance during their financial uncertainty.

Julie Burr, a single mom and contracted government worker from Kansas City, Missouri, created a GoFundMe page two days after Christmas asking the public for help. “I’m losing pay every day that this government shutdown continues,” Burr wrote. “I’ve taken on extra shifts at my 2nd job but it isn’t going to pay rent and all my bills... I’m in panic mode right now.”

The GoFundMe website currently has over 1,000 results for pages regarding the government shutdown. The majority of federal workers who've posted pages on the site are asking for amounts ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. Most of the pages have yet to receive any donations.

One GoFundMe posted by Eddie Brown, a member of the military from Colorado Springs, Colorado, asked for $1,500 but has so far received $100. “Been in the Military for over 17 years seen a government shutdown once or twice. I continue to work for free, bills are still due at normal time and most importantly i need to keep a roof over my families head.” Brown wrote. “... Looking for a way to come up with $1500 monthly to keep the lights on and my family off the streets.”

Leo, a tax examiner for the IRS in Ohio who did not use his full name because he's not permitted to speak about his job with the media, said he can't pick up his $200 insulin prescription because he doesn't know when his next paycheck will come, CNBC reports.

President Trump has refused to reopen the government unless Congress agrees to a budget that includes funding for a wall along the U.S. Mexico border. At a press conference on Friday Trump told reporters he was “proud” of the partial government shutdown and confirmed that it could last for “months or even years.” On Saturday, talks led by Vice President Mike Pence ended without a deal and will resume on Sunday.

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Some 420,000 employees who are considered “essential” are required to continue working without pay throughout the shutdown. Another 380,000 “non-essential” employees have been ordered to stay home.

Essential workers include some service members. The Coast Guard is the only branch of the military directly affected by the partial shutdown. Since the Coast Guard is funded through the Department of Homeland Security its appropriations have yet to be signed into law, while the other military branches receive their money through Department of Defense appropriations, which were signed into law in September.

Kayla, the wife of a Coast Guard member, spoke to Anderson Cooper on Friday about the stress her family has dealt with as the shutdown crawls into its third week. Kayla told Cooper she has been forced to ask creditors to push back bills, and was even considering returning her son’s Christmas gifts in an effort to make ends meet.

Federal agencies were instructed to hold off on instituting pay raises for Trump administration officials during the shutdown. The directive was issued Friday by Margaret Weichert, acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, who wrote the office “believes it would be prudent for agencies to continue to pay these senior political officials at the frozen rate until appropriations legislation is enacted that would clarify the status of the freeze.”

Trump announced in August of last year that he would nix an automatic pay raise for federal workers because of the “nation’s fiscal situation,” reneging on an anticipated raise to 1.8 million workers. Trump has said he believes that raises should be based on performance, instead of the “across-the-board” increases currently in place.

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