As the government shutdown stretches on and becomes the longest in history, it can feel like it doesn’t affect central Iowa at all. Washington D.C. is hundreds of miles away and talk of the negotiations are only relayed to us via various news outlets. We hear about the 800,000 federal workers who are either working without pay, or furloughed, their stories are hard to hear, but they are so distant, does the shutdown really affect anyone here?
Although it might not seem like it, there are a lot of people whose lives are affected right here in Iowa. For example, there are almost 300 people who work at the National Center for Disease Control (NADC) in Ames, Iowa. Monday the 14th and Monday the 28th were supposed to be paydays for most of the Center, but no one will be getting paid. This is very difficult for families with mortgages, how can you pay a bill without any money? This shutdown comes at a horrible time, with Christmas coming just days after the official beginning of the shutdown. How does anyone celebrate when they are worried about their next paycheck?
I work at the NADC and being a college student, the shutdown has made things difficult for me. My tuition was due two weeks into the shutdown, and I was relying on my paycheck to help me pay it. Now I have to cover my tuition without the money from that paycheck. I have no idea when my next check will come, as it will take over a week to process once the government is finally back up and running. Which means that, no matter when the government comes back, I won’t get paid immediately. This means that for me, along with the other 300 employees of the NADC, there is no end in sight.
As the president and Congress continue to fight over the budget, do they realize that their actions affect 800,000 people nationwide? This number also only includes federal employees, it doesn’t include anyone who uses government resources such as USDA provided loans. As Congress stay locked in their negotiations, they don’t feel the effects, as Congress members get paid during the shutdown, while the rest of the employees do not. Is it fair that they hold so many people’s lives in their hands, yet they don’t feel the financial pressure they are putting people under? Something needs to happen; the shutdown is not obviously not effective, and many people are suffering from its prolonged effects. Both Congress and the president need to put aside their differences, and their pride, to do what is best for the country.