Federal workers struggle to make ends meet during shutdown

Federal workers struggle to make ends meet during shutdown

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A Mid-South man who works for the IRS says his family is struggling to make payments.

William Weeks has worked for the IRS for almost three years and said the government shutdown is impacting real people with real families, like his.

Although Congress passed a bill ensuring workers will receive back pay once the government reopens, Weeks said he and his family need help now.

As the bills pile up, all Weeks can think about is what's next. Weeks is hundreds of dollars behind on bills.

He works with the local IRS, and his last paycheck came December 29.

"It’s been difficult because it’s hard as a man when you want to take care of your family and you’re not able to be the provider that you used to be,” Weeks said.

Weeks lives with his wife, his stepdaughter, and mother-in-law. Since the government shutdown he’s been forced to file for unemployment and turn to other means, like using photography as a main source of income.

"The bookings that I do get that just goes towards my bills that I’m past due on,” Weeks said.

Weeks is one of the thousands of Mid-South employees impacted by the shutdown. He often thinks about his colleagues, the ones working without pay.

“I’m at home waiting for something, but they’re going to work knowing they’re not getting paid and they still have to be at work,” Weeks said. “My heart goes out to them as well.”

"It’s wrong for them to work and not get a paycheck and I want them to know I’m doing everything I can to reopen the government,” said Senator Lamar Alexander (R).

Alexander said a government shutdown is always the wrong answer.

"The best thing to do would be for the Senate to take President Trump’s request for $7.2 billion for border security, have a hearing on it next week, re-open the government and give us three weeks to consider that,” Alexander said.

Until a solution is brought to the table, Weeks continues to look at his pile of bills, trying to stay positive.

Federal workers struggle to make ends meet during shutdown

Kenya Johnson has worked with the IRS for about eight years.

"This one is the rockiest one,” Johnson said. “It's the one with the most uncertainty."

This government shutdown is the worst she’s ever seen.

"The average employee has 30-40 years at this one location, at this one agency and they give their all to the IRS and all they ask for in return is a paycheck,” Johnson said.

Johnson has two kids, and her last paycheck came December 29.

With no real end to the shutdown in sight, she’s just trying to stay positive.

"There’s an opportunity in everything that we experience and that’s the space that I’m trying to operate in every day,” Johnson said.

But even through the positivity, Johnson has had some bad days. She’s behind on some bills, and her plans to buy a house this year could be pushed back.

Last month, Johnson said she couldn’t buy her son birthday presents.

“Because of the shutdown I’m afraid to spend the money because I just don’t know when more money is coming in,” Johnson said. “When your resources are finite, you find yourself freezing.”

Her message is that this government shutdown needs to end because it’s impacting real people, real families like hers.

"Basically just doing all of this political grandstanding at the expense of my livelihood, at the expense of my safety, at the expense of the comfort for my children,” Johnson said.

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