Marcelo del Canto is a budget advisor for a federal agency Rockville. He and his wife—also a government worker—have a 4-year-old son and a new home. And thanks to the government shutdown they are now without paychecks.
“I've had to withdraw my son from daycare,” said del Canto, a budget analyst for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “We're scrambling. We're ready to call the banks and creditors to let them know that, who knows, I might not be able to meet my obligations coming to me. This month? Yes. Next month, not really.”
Del Canto was one of several federal workers who came to an event in Washington, DC on Wednesday to vent their frustrations and to encourage Congress to act.
“This is a huge impact,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Maryland).
“We have over a quarter of a million Marylanders who work for the federal government at the moment, Cardin said. “We have somewhere of 125,000 on furlough right now.”
Many federal agencies are based in Montgomery County, where according to Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett’s estimates, it will cost $500,000 each day federal workers are off the job.
Steve Hopkins, who works with Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Pesticide Programs in Silver Spring, has been working for the federal government for 25 years. He said he lost six days of work to the government shutdown back in the 1990s.
“This game of playing chicken, most people got over in high school,” Hopkins said. “But these people haven't got over it yet. They haven't seen the cost of playing chicken. So every year it goes to the same thing. Maybe at the last moment they escape, maybe they don't.”
Hopkins is also a steward for American Federation of Government Employees, a union that represents hundreds of thousands of federal employees.
Wednesday’s event was hosted by Democrats who were trying to highlight the impact of the shutdown on federal workers and their families.
Lawmakers were asked whether they’d consider putting some of their constituents back to work as lawmakers continue trying to reach an agreement on the budget and end the stalemate over Obamacare.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) said the focus should be on getting the entire government back to work.
“A piecemeal approach does not deal with the issue,” Mikulski said. “It is an illusion. It is about implying that there's something. What they need to do is pass a continuing funding resolution—we recommend for six weeks—to get our fiscal solution settled.”
Cardin said bills have been introduced in the House and the Senate to ensure furloughed workers receive their pay retroactively.