For 35 days, a single mother from Island Park struggled to make ends meet as President Donald Trump’s historic government shutdown continued, which caused her to work her job at the Internal Revenue Service while not getting paid.
“Not going to work and not receiving a paycheck is one thing, but having to go to work, spending money for a babysitter, on gas and food, all of that is costly and I’m not receiving any money,” said the Island Park resident, who requested anonymity because she didn’t want to jeopardize her job. “My mortgage, car payments and other bills are adding up and I have to go and work for free.”
The resident spoke to the Herald days before Trump signed a stopgap funding measure on Jan. 25 to end the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
She said she began working for the IRS five years ago and it takes her an hour to get from Island Park to her job in Brookhaven, which meant she frequently had to pay for gas in order to work her shifts, which are from 6 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. She said when she wasn’t working, she kept CNN on at all times in her house as she awaited news that the shutdown was finally over.
The resident called into question Trump’s motivation for shutting down the government, which spurred from his desire to fund a $5.7 million wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, because it affected so many federal employees.
“I think he’s just being unfair and not thinking of all the lower class or people that are below him,” she said of the president. “He doesn’t care about any of us. He’s just treating the government and the country like it’s his business.”
She added that she was upset because she had a 1-year birthday party planned for her son and had already made down payments on food and entertainment before the shutdown began. At the beginning of the government impasse, the Island Park native said she didn’t have to report to work, but for nearly a month, she and her co-workers were called in to work without pay.
“This is a tough time for us,” she said. “Thank God I didn’t work paycheck to paycheck, but there are people who don’t have money to put gas in their car and get to work.”
She said during the shutdown, she and her coworkers had a lack of motivation and were stressed. Reached Monday, she said she was happy the ordeal was over, but worried another shutdown could loom.
Though the government reopening sent hundreds of thousands of federal employees who were furloughed back to work and ensured that those who worked during the shutdown would receive back pay, there is still concern the shutdown could resume when the funding measure expires on Feb. 15.
“We don’t know when this is going to be over,” the resident said. “It’s scary.”