The difficulties facing government employees forced to work without pay during the shutdown didn’t simply disappear when President Donald Trump reopened the government for three weeks on Friday.
Many of these approximately 450,000 federal employees were forced to pull from savings or find other ways to stretch their dollars as the shutdown stretched on for 35 days. Now, they must still wait for their back pay to arrive and wait to see the extended effects of those missed paychecks.
Despite the battle on Capitol Hill, federal employees nationwide continued to do their jobs. Here are some of the stories of those who had to work during the longest government shutdown in US history:
Department of Homeland Security
Transportation Security Administration
- Hundreds of TSA officers, who were required to work without paychecks through the partial government shutdown, called out from work from at least four major airports.
- Mobile food banks began distributing provisions to TSA screeners at airports, CBS reported.
- TSA officials in more than 10 states with more than 100 airports received an email asking for 250 employees to move from their home airports to those airports struggling with low staffing.
- This family thought their troubles were over. Jessica Caraballo, a Transportation Security Administration officer at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, had just been promoted to a full-time position and her husband got a new job selling cars. Then the government shutdown left them in limbo.
- This week, some TSA agents at Hawaii airports started to resign, Hawaii News Now reported. The newspaper reported at least one screener lived out of their car at the airport during the work week and would travel home only once a week to save gas.
- Canadian air traffic controllers ordered hundreds of pizzas for their American counterparts working without pay.
- Thousands of active duty US Coast Guard service members did not receive their paycheck last week. “To the best of my knowledge, this marks the first time in our Nation’s history that servicemembers in a U.S. Armed Force have not been paid during a lapse in appropriations,” Commandant Admiral Karl L. Schultz, the branch’s top official, wrote in a statement.
- About 41,000 active-duty Coast Guardsmen who were working without pay and were unsure when they’d see their next paychecks were told they should consider having garage sales, babysitting, and dog-walking, the Washington Post reported.
- “I find it unacceptable that Coast Guard men and women have to rely on food pantries and donations to get through day-to-day life as service members,” Schultz said in a video posted online.
Customs and Border Protection
Citizenship and Immigration Services
- Nearly 300 furloughed Department of Homeland Security employees from the E-Verify division of US Citizenship and Immigration Services were called back to work, but they were assigned to other jobs that didn’t have funding. These people were assigned to jobs that were funded by fees.
- “Nearly 90 percent of DHS employees are currently working on essential national security projects and programs without a paycheck,” DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton told CNN in a statement. “There is no question that unpaid DHS employees and their families are facing financial constraints and sacrificing greatly.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Department of Justice
- FBI agents were working without pay as of Jan. 11. The FBI Agents Association said the shutdown would hamper recruiting efforts.
- A number of anonymous FBI officials sounded off on the impact the financial insecurity caused by the shutdown was having on the lives of the law enforcement agents. “I have heard from some of the younger employees. If this shutdown is a prolonged matter, they said they would find work elsewhere,” one official told the agents association.
- More than 6,000 Secret Service Agents worked during the shutdown to protect the current and former presidents and their families. “If you’ve got guys thinking about how they’re going to make their house payment, I can just tell you, you’re not doing your job right. Your head is not in the right place – this is affecting people,” one agent told CNN.
- Former president George W. Bush got pizza for his Secret Service details and called for an end to the shutdown. “It’s time for leaders on both sides to put politics aside, come together, and end this shutdown,” he wrote on Instagram.
- Special shutdown challenge coins were being distributed among US Secret Service personnel and their families, who are expressing frustration at the requirement they work without pay.
Federal Bureau of Prisons
- Federal prison workers who weren’t receiving pay were concerned their unpaid debts could affect their security clearance. One prison worker told CNN, “Recently I’ve been waking up going, ‘is this worth it?’”
- Federal prison workers in Florida’s Panhandle were already having to commute 400 miles because of Hurricane Michael, according to The New York Times.
- Prison employees had to work without pay at a prison in Greenville, Illinois, that struggled to find workers to staff overtime shifts, according to the Belleville News-Democrat.
Department of Transportation
Federal Aviation Administration
- The FAA announced Tuesday that it would recall an additional group of furloughed employees, the New York Times reported.
- Air traffic workers are making “routine mistakes” due to high levels of stress caused by the shutdown, Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, told CNN on Wednesday night.
- William Striffler, an air traffic controller working without pay at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, showed CNN the pay stub for $0.00 he received after working 64 hours during the first pay cycle of the shutdown. “We’ve been working knowing that it was coming, and when it hit yesterday, it really hit,” Striffler told CNN’s Poppy Harlow.
Internal Revenue Service
- The IRS officially ordered tens of thousands of employees back to work without pay and process tax returns.
- At least 14,000 furloughed IRS employees called back to work by the Treasury Department didn’t show up, according to two congressional aides briefed on the matter. Of those, 5,000 cited hardships, and 9,000 couldn’t be reached.
Health and Human Services
Food and Drug Administration
Department of the Interior
National Park Service
Department of Commerce
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- Almost 40% of workers in departments who were affected by the shutdown are people of color. A third of the shuttered departments have workforces that are more than 45% minority. Workers who were affected by the shutdown live in every state, with DC and California having the most.
- Some landlords who get subsidies from the federal government were pressuring low-income renters to make up the difference of the unpaid government portion of their rent, the New York Times reported.
- Fewer government employees who were affected by the shutdown were traveling on airplanes – which hurt Delta Airlines revenues, Delta CEO Ed Bastian told CNBC.
- Some essential employees sought assistance from banks and credit unions that cater to federal workers who offered financial help such as low- or no-interest payroll advances and loans.
CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to clarify that the Federal Bureau of Prisons is in the Department of Justice.
CNN’s Rene Marsh, Greg Wallace, Nicole Chavez, Augusta Anthony, Veronica Stracqualursi, Catherine E. Shoichet, Priscilla Alvarez and Geneva Sands, Nick Valencia, David Shortell, Elizabeth Landers, Jessica Schneider, Kate Sullivan, Ellie Kaufman, Nicole Gaouette, Jennifer Hansler, Kylie Atwood, Donna Borak, Lauren Fox and Doug Criss contributed to this report.