Government re-opens, but employee struggle continues

Students at the University of Alabama are being affected by the shutdown, which might occur again should lawmakers not reach agreement by Feb. 15.

By Jessica Ramsey
News Reporter

TUSCALOOSA — The federal government has reopened temporarily after a record 35 days of being closed.

Even though things appear to be back to normal, not all government employees have recovered from the shutdown.

Amongst 50 states, Alabama was ranked 9th in states most affected by the shutdown.

Nia McMillian, a student at the University, has a mother who works for the FBI. Her mother is a “primary employee” who is required to work with or without pay. 

“She had to cut back on a lot of things, mortgage wasn’t paid so she has to use her savings and defer any loans she had. She usually helps me out with rent but I had to actually work more hours to help her out with bills on her end,” said McMillian.

Kristi Davison, another student at Alabama, said that the shutdown has also prohibited her mother from working. She, along with McMillian, has struggled financially to pay her bills.

“I’ve been using my refund money to pay for things while she hasn’t been getting paid. They weren’t able to pay a couple bills because she missed a paycheck but the companies are giving her a grace period to pay,” said Davison.

Students like Sierra Stockley, whose mother works for NATO, struggled to pay tuition on time.

“The shutdown hasn’t been drastic for my family because my dad is not a government employee; however, my spring tuition payment was due during winter break, and my mom was counting on her paycheck to be able to pay that on time,” Stockley said.

Not only did the shutdown affect Stockley’s tuition but its also affected her mentally.

“I think the biggest impact has been the morale, though. It was hard watching my mom work almost 12- hour days in a stressful environment for free, knowing there was nothing anyone could do to change that. And then come home and have to run a household,” Stockley said.

While the basis for the shutdown revolved around funding to build border walls for safety, the three students felt like this was a selfish act that actually decreased American safety.

 “It’s ironic that this entire situation began over American safety, but the fact that TSA agents were being overworked and not paid, had low morale, and calling out sick was a huge threat to our air security,” Stockley said, “Airports like JFK and Atlanta, which I flew through during this shutdown, were having so many delays and security lapses, which to me is more of a crisis than people crossing the border to potentially start a better life.”

McMillion said the shutdown affects people in the middle and lower classes, people who depend on their government check.

“Working class are furloughed and people in the Senate and Congress still get paid. They can take their time because their pockets aren’t affected. This affects lots of middle and lower class people,” McMillion said.

Even though the students are happy that the government has opened temporarily, they are still unsure about the future of it staying open.

“The temporary shut down puts us back at square one, and honestly we don’t know what were going to do because he can’t go through another 30-day shutdown,” McMillion said.

Davison said, “I think it’s a relief but it won’t last, which is stressful.”

Stockley thinks it is immature that the president is still threatening to shut the government down again. She hopes that a permanent resolution will be found soon.

“I think the threat of shutting it down again … shows that there really is not much of a concern for the livelihoods of average American citizens, who work extremely hard to keep this country great to begin with,” Stockley said. “Hopefully a bi-partisan agreement can be worked out permanently.”