'My son made a comment where he said Santa didn't give us as much as he did last year, and that was heartbreaking,' said one federal employee.
As the Trump shutdown extends into the 12th day, federal workers are speaking out with heartbreaking stories of hardships they face because of Trump's choices.
One federal prison worker in Texas is recently engaged, but was forced to skip making the down payment on her wedding venue and cancel her wedding dress appointment because she doesn't know when she will get paid next. She lamented to CNN that her "dreams and hopes for something in life are being fractured and highly possibly shattered."
In mid-December, Trump boasted that he would "take the mantle" of shutting down the government unless Congress paid a $5 billion ransom to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. While a feckless Paul Ryan spent his last days as Speaker groveling before Trump, Democrats refused to give in to Trump's tantrums, and Trump shut the government down on Dec. 22.
The decision by Trump and Republicans to force a shutdown is having real consequences for families across the country.
"My son made a comment where he said Santa didn't give us as much as he did last year, and that was heartbreaking," said one Washington, D.C.-area mother who works at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Lila Johnson, a 71-year-old grandmother raising her two grandsons, was told to use her sick leave and vacation time during the shutdown. Johnson works with a contractor in charge of cleaning the State Department.
"It's Christmastime," Johnson told the Washington Post. "People need their money. I don't think it's right for us to have to use our sick days." Johnson, like most people in this country, had no doubt as to who is to blame: Trump.
"That man only cares about himself," Johnson said.
One federal employees' union filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, arguing it is illegal to force federal employees to work and not pay them. The lawsuit stems from several hundred thousand employees who are deemed "essential" and must work without pay during the shutdown.
"It's outrageous the government expects them to work without knowing when they'll get their next paycheck," lead attorney Heidi Burakiewicz told the Washington Post, referring to Border Patrol agents, law enforcement officers and federal firefighters who must work without pay.
While Republicans have proven their inability to govern, a new Democratic majority led by Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi will soon be in control of the House of Representatives. Their first order of business will be to pass legislation to reopen the government.
"It's time to end the Trump shutdown and the pain it is inflicting on our families," American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten said in a statement. The end of the Trump shutdown can not come soon enough for some families.
"We have about a month in savings and that's it," said a heartbroken mother who works at DHS. "That's a struggle because an appliance can break, a car can need breaks."
"Just like everyone else, we're one or two paychecks from being in serious trouble," she added.
The Trump shutdown has real consequences, and the longer Trump maintains his shutdown, the more pain families will feel.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.