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Federal Workers Struggle As Now Longest Ever Government Shutdown Continues

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Congress passed a bill Friday that will give workers affected by the government shutdown back pay when the shutdown ends. President Trump says he'll sign it.

tsa screeners working on day 16 of the government shutdown 2
TSA screeners working at Midway on day 16 of the government shutdown. (CBS)

But with no end in sight, workers are still struggling, and some vital government services will remain on hold.

Kevin Bolger is spending a lot more time in the kitchen these days and not by choice. The Environmental Protection Agency employee is furloughed along with most of the Chicago office. And that means no pay indefinitely.

"It's ridiculous," Bolger said. "We've been vilified already as federal employees, you know, with this administration. It's just been crazy."

Bolger is a 35-year EPA employee, and the primary breadwinner at home. He just had spinal surgery in the fall. Back pay may be on the horizon, but that doesn't help now.

"Bills are coming in. I'm waiting for the Cook County Treasurer to send the annual greeting card to me for the property taxes," he said.

An air traffic control employee, who wanted to remain anonymous, says she got a $13 paycheck Friday. And she only got that $13 because of a past mistake.

"I didn't save for someone else to, you know, hold my money captive," she said. "It's definitely a reality when we start calling our creditors, and some of them are OK. They're giving you leniency for a month or so. And some of the are -- there's nothing that they can do."

And adding insult to injury, employees received letters officials suggest affected employees hand to creditors asking for extensions.

And it's not just a financial hit. Sources tell CBS 2 there have been increased sick calls and forced overtime among "essential" TSA workers in Chicago, who must work without pay like air traffic controllers.

Bolger says the environment will be impacted, too.

"There's water inspections, air inspections that are not getting done," he said.

He isn't optimistic.

"The way I see this thing ending, it'll probably wind up being this national emergency will probably be declared."

Some banks and credit unions are offering federal employees low interested, even zero interest loans, to help provide a buffer as the shutdown continues.



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