Federal government workers feel squeeze of partial shutdown

Smithsonian Forced To Close Museums And Zoo As Government Shutdown Continues
Posted at 2:36 PM, Jan 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-02 17:49:01-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The pinch of the partial shutdown on federal government agencies and employees approached a squeeze Wednesday as workers prepared for their first pay period without a paycheck.

Hundreds of thousands of federal employees who are furloughed or working without pay during the government shutdown are anticipating an end to the political standoff.

The partial shutdown, which took effect Dec. 21, forced 420,000 workers to continue their jobs without pay. 380,000 workers were furloughed nationwide.

5,000 of the affected workers are in San Diego County, according to Rep. Scott Peters' office, which cited the Association of Federal Government Workers.

Border Patrol agents enforcing the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego County are among the affected employees. So are TSA agents, including those who kept holiday travelers safe at Lindbergh Field.

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Many San Diegans only noticed the impact of the shutdown by the closure of national parks including the Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma, and Joshua Tree National Park.

However, more people may soon feel the change. Many departments and agencies are running out of carryover cash, Politico reports.

Dozens of national parks and museums, including Smithsonian facilities, closed Wednesday as they ran out of money. Yosemite National Park limited entry due to problems with human waste and public safety. Visitors were told to use restrooms in nearby communities before entering the park.

The Coast Guard is scaling back boating safety checks, mariner licensing, and fishing law enforcement, according to Politico. Tax filing season, which usually starts in January, may start later, and many IRS workers may be called to work without pay for filing season.

The most recent pay period ended Dec. 22, with paychecks arriving Dec. 28. The next pay period ends Jan. 5, with the check due Jan. 11.

There’s a possibility that check may never come. Workers may be paid retroactively but it would take an act of Congress.

To make the financial picture even more grim for federal employees, President Trump issued an executive order Friday, freezing their pay for 2019. Their 2.1 percent hike was supposed to take effect this month. (The freeze does not impact U.S. service personnel, who were due to receive a 2.6 percent pay hike as part of the spending bill signed in August.)

The Associated Press and CNN contributed to this report.