As the longest government shutdown in modern history comes to a close after 35 days, federal workers are left to pickup the pieces as another shutdown looms in the distance.
U.S. President Donald Trump and congressional leaders agreed on Friday to re-open the government temporarily, until Feb. 15, as democrats and republicans debate border security and immigration reform, with the president’s primary goal of securing $5.7 billion in funding for a border wall remaining unchanged.
During the shutdown, 420,000 federal workers went without pay and another 380,000 were sent home on forced, unpaid leave. Now, both federal workers and agencies that were shuttered during the shutdown are working to pickup the pieces caused by lost paychecks – and time.
While most services are set to resume their normal operations sometime next week, Americans waiting on tax returns and backpay will have to wait. For those waiting on tax returns, Jan. 28 is the first day the IRS will begin processing them, while the White House and other federal agencies have yet to announce when federal workers will begin getting paid, though during his speech from the Rose Garden on Friday the president said federal employees would be paid “soon.”
However, according to Facebook post made by one chapter of the Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer’s Association, the U.S. Coast Guard is not expected to receive their backpay until early February, putting additional financial strain on service members who may not get paid for another two weeks. However, a majority of federal workers are expected to receive back pay starting next week.
“There’s still work to be done, because we haven’t received our paycheck and we still have to make it until our paycheck comes,” said one Coast Guard spouse to the East Tennessean. “We’re living the same way we have since the government shut down until Feb. 15 when we find out if we’re out of the woods.”
While the shutdown’s affects on many of America’s federal workforce have rightfully been at the forefront, its hard to understate just how much of a hit America’s economy has taken as well.
According to estimates by S&P Global Ratings, the shutdown cost the U.S. economy at least $6 billion, due to lost productivity, uncollected tax revenue and national park and museum fees going uncollected, among other things. The Smithsonian, for instance, reportedly lost $1 million in revenue each week during the shutdown, while major airlines reported per week losses of eight figures or more.
Still, the immigration reform debate rages on against the clock, as congressional leaders and the president try to make a deal on immigration before funding runs out again.
“If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on Feb. 15 again, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws of the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency,” Trump said during his speech.