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Miffed federal employees watch and wait

January 1, 1996
Web posted at: 11:00 p.m. EST

From Correspondent Jeanne Meserve

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Despite the partial federal government shutdown that has 280,000 employees idled, Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole and Bill Clinton left Washington for the New Year's holiday, with a promise of more budget talks beginning Tuesday.

But while the president spent the holiday teeing off in Hilton Head, federal workers spent it teed off.

"The bottom line is we are here working, and they should be working also," said Lisa Stevens, assistant curator of mammals at the National Zoo.


Stevens is part of the skeleton staff keeping the animals at the zoo fed and clean -- a job that must be done, holiday or no holiday and paycheck or no paycheck.

"The animals need someone to take care of them and I take that responsibility very seriously," said zoo biologist Melanie Bond. "I just wish some other people did." (77K AIFF sound or 77K WAV sound)

This New Year's Day is not a happy one in households relying on federal paychecks. It's also the first of the month, and bills are due. Federal employees like Greg Chicca know the checks they get this week will be reduced, and they don't know when they'll get another.

"Well, you got mortgage, utility bills, car payments, and because of the holiday we got some shopping bills for Christmas," lamented Chicca. "You're going to do what you can with this half a pay that we're getting."


Some federal workers vented their anger and fears at a demonstration in Chicago.

"It's really a mental strain that I am going through and I know a lot of people are going through," said Department of Housing and Urban Development employee Evone Poindexter, "because we don't know what is going to happen." (136K AIFF sound or 136K WAV sound)

And back at the zoo, "furloughed" sea lions let out a roar -- perhaps voicing the opinion of federal employees most succinctly.


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