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While President Donald Trump was left tweeting about being alone on Christmas Eve, a much sadder trend was seen on Twitter on Monday—federal employees, affected by the government shutdown, sharing their stories.
The shutdown reached its fourth day on Tuesday, with a stalemate between Trump and congressional Democrats over the funding of the border wall.
While politicians remain divided on the issue, the shutdown trickles down to individuals and families. As previous records show, it often affects poor families and low-income workers. Many are sharing their accounts using the hashtag #ShutdownStories. It’s a grim look into the lives of the common citizen who have become collateral damage to divisive politics.
The trend likely began when Twitter user Tea Pain asked for people to share their stories on Sunday:
Thousands responded, each sharing their own kind of struggle:
We were relying on that paycheck to pay the car payment because I was too sick to work most of the month. Thank you, Mr. President. #ShutdownStories— Grace Franke (@eskimita01) December 24, 2018
My husband is active duty Coast Guard. Everyone thinks the military is getting paid during the shutdown, but the Coast Guard is facing no pay on the 1st due to being DHS and not DoD. We live in NYC, pay over $2K/month in rent, have a toddler and one on the way.#ShutdownStories— Katy⚓ (@katyjb88) December 24, 2018
I just moved my family of 3 to the DC area to take a job with the federal government. My rent doubled, I spent my savings moving, and now I might not get paid. #ShutdownStories— Kevin Adams (@k6adams) December 24, 2018
A lot of the tweets are surrounding the sole breadwinner of the family who now has no pay:
A TSA friend, who lives on a pay check to pay, a family of three depends on him, is spending his holidays without pay. #ShutdownStories— Jhakri (@Okharbot) December 24, 2018
My daughter is furloughed. Sole breadwinner. I have enough cash to get her family through January. If it goes longer, I will dip into retirement savings. Whatever it takes to protect my daughter and my grandkids #ShutdownStories— Mississippi 1962 (@mississippi1962) December 24, 2018
We had a baby two months ago (10/24/18); I have been on unpaid leave since then. Husband works with USFS, is our primary earner. Without his income, I don’t know what we will do. We have enough in savings to cover the mortgage in January, but beyond that... 🤷🏻♀️#ShutdownStories pic.twitter.com/2EV4qAXC0C— Little Sarah (@theSarawithanH) December 24, 2018
Worst of all, it means Christmas is canceled for many:
My dad works at a federal prison, and has been there for the past 16 years. My mom told me tonight, that they decided against presents for each other because they dont know when he will get paid again. Thank you @realDonaldTrump for causing my parents to do this. #ShutdownStories— David Allen 🏳️🌈 (@reggiedavey) December 25, 2018
Did a video chat with my husband this morn while kids opened presents because as essential personnel he had to furlough his staff but is required to work himself and couldn't be with us for Christmas as originally planned. #ShutdownStories pic.twitter.com/P2AzmHdYVn— Sandy Mickey (@NatureGirlTech) December 25, 2018
The shutdown is having ripple effects on those who are not employees of the federal government but are dependent on it:
#ShutdownStories Last summer, our city was ravaged by the Carr Fire. Whiskeytown Lake (where Carr Fire started) is now unattended. The teams doing recovery work are furloughed. Winter rains and runoff will further damage the rivers, lake and forest. #ThanksTrump— Belinda McBride 🌊 (@Belinda_McBride) December 24, 2018
#ShutdownStories— Justin James (@L8RG8R2U) December 24, 2018
All the offices I’d need to visit to go over financial aid are closed for the holidays, but will stay close until the shutdown is over. So I likely can’t go to college next term. Why do government shutdowns screw over literally everyone but the ones responsible?
For thousands of people, it’s not a very merry Christmas this year, especially amid growing fear the shutdown can last until mid-January.
Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque