Chris Rachford’s 15-month-old daughter, Harper, was born prematurely and needs a ventilator at home to breathe, not to mention numerous doctor’s appointments to thrive.
Harper spent more than 300 days at a hospital before being released in August to her family’s Kentucky home. Her mother, Allie McKinney, quit her job as a social worker to care for her.
McKinney and Rachford thought they could rely on Rachford’s salary as a data processing assistant for the Internal Revenue Service. But he’s working without pay because of the partial federal government shutdown – and he has new anxieties about how he’s going to care for his daughter properly if it stretches on.
Rachford was last paid December 31, and he’s about to miss his second check. The family estimates they have a month’s worth of money left.
Rachford voted for President Donald Trump but now blames him for the shutdown.
“Right now, at this point, I 100% regret voting for Trump,” Rachford told CNN this week in an interview at his home.
Selling baseball cards for gas money
Medicaid pays for much of Harper’s care, but her parents still need to shell out hundreds of dollars a month for items that aren’t covered.
Then, there’s gas money. Harper has many doctor’s appointments, some of which are 30 to 40 miles away. The fuel bills add up.
To help cover that during the shutdown, the couple is selling personal belongings – baby toys, furniture and part of their baseball card collection.
And they don’t want to think about getting behind on utility bills because Harper’s ventilator and other specialized equipment rely on electricity.
They’re worried about being evicted from their apartment if they can’t come up with money for rent.
‘Put us back to work so we can get paid’
McKinney said she’d love to have a chance to talk to the President about the shutdown.
“First, I would make him meet Harper, and I would tell him, ‘This isn’t about a border; it’s about your people,”” McKinney said. “‘And I know you want to keep your people safe. But by restricting payments … that they’re rightfully earning, that’s not keeping people safe.’”
Trump has said he won’t sign a bill funding the government until money for barriers on the southern US border is approved.
In an interview Friday morning with White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, CNN’s John Berman recounted this family’s story, then asked what Sanders would say to people who believe the President doesn’t feel their financial pain.
“The idea that this President doesn’t care deeply about every single American misses the very essence of who he is,” Sanders replied. “This is a President who loves our country, is committed to doing everything he can to help every single American have the best life possible.
“That’s why he wants to protect them in every component and in every way possible. That’s why he wants to see a border wall.”
CNN asked Rachford what he would tell Trump if he saw him.
“Put us back to work,” he said, “so we can get paid.”