Government shutdown has local impact

The Robert S. Kerr Environmental Research Facility has been closed during the government shut down, leaving many employees without pay.

Photo: EPA

The Robert S. Kerr Environmental Research Facility has been closed during the government shut down, leaving many employees without pay.

The federal government had been in the longest shutdown in U.S. history, lasting 35 days and breaking the old record of 21 days. 420,000 federal employees have been working without pay, including border security which was at the root of the shutdown.

800,000 federal employees and 1.2 million federal contractors have been affected. Other agencies such as EPA, National Parks, Department of Homeland Security, Coast Guard Employees, and Transportation Security were not paid during the shutdown. With only a temporary reopening for three weeks, there seems to be no end in sight.

During President Donald Trump’s campaign, he pushed for better border security and a wall along the border that separates the U.S. and Mexico, declaring that Mexico would pay for it. Mexico has since declined to pay for the wall, leading Trump to request more than 5 billion dollars to build it, claiming that in the long run, it will be better for America financially.  

The House and the Senate have argued against Trump and say they will not approve the amount requested. Amongst the fighting, the annual federal budget was not approved. Therefore, the government shutdown and federal employees are not being paid. Few federal employees have had any type of income coming in and many were stretching their savings for as long as they could.

Ada Oklahoma has a large federal facility, Robert S. Kerr Environmental Research Center ( a branch of EPA), and employs about 48 federal and a total of 91 employees that aren’t being paid during the shutdown. The research center feeds into the local economy 7.1 million dollars. Many people such as Tony Lee, Randall Ross and Michael Brooks have been affected by this shutdown.

“I try not sit around and watch the news all day because it will cause major depression,” said Lee. “Congress needs to do their job and get this all resolved.”

The current government shutdown is not something new to Ross, who was a federal employee during the last shutdown.

We are fortunate to have sufficient savings available to see us through this debacle/political stunt,” said Ross. 

However, that may not be the case for many of the younger workers, especially contractors impacted by this political battle of egos. I worry about them. Having been through numerous government shutdowns before I know the shutdown will eventually end and our lives will be back to normal. In the meantime I pray that the principal parties involved are cured of their cranial rectal inversion.”

Brooks believes the impact of the shutdown will spread beyond just federal employees, eventually reaching the taxpayer.

“I think there are three groups of people most impacted by the government shutdown,” said Brooks. “First, there are those federal employees who do not have the financial resources to endure a period without pay. For them, the shutdown must create terrible anxiety as they have to deal with paying bills without a paycheck. Second, there are those federal employees who are required to work without pay. I don’t see how the federal government can ask them to that, and I think these people should get special compensation for having to do so. And third, ultimately it’s the taxpayers who lose out, because they have to endure loss of government function. They are also paying for the elected officials who are responsible for the shutdown.”

EPA hires student contractors that are currently enrolled in or have recently graduated from college. Cassie and Alexis are two of these student contractors. Both wish to have their last names remain anonymous.

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“I really hope something happens,” said Cassie. “Anything. It feels like everything has been so stagnant. Overall, it feels like the shutdown is holding us hostage. One thing that’s giving me a lot of anxiety right now is that I need to take my car into the shop to have them checkout the brakes, but because of my bills and rent are still over half of my income (that I am no longer getting), I cannot. It is incredibly stressful knowing the roof over my head, the food I eat, my mode of transportation and my education are only going to last as long as my savings account does.”

Alexis worries that is the shutdown continues much longer, she will have to move out of the Ada area.

“The government shutdown is definitely affecting me,” said Alexis. “I’m worried about my ability to afford staying here in Ada without any income. I still have a ton of bills, rent, insurance, car payments, etc., but I don’t know how long the shutdown will last and I don’t know when it will become impossible for me to pay these off.”

The government has recently reopened temporarily over the last three weeks. If a budget plan is not confirmed by Friday, the government shutdown will resume.