Editor’s note: The following letter was received before the federal government shutdown was averted.
I am a member of the American Federation of Government Employees, America’s largest federal employee union. I represent the proud men and women of the Transportation Security Administration in Southern California, from San Luis Obispo in the north to San Diego in the south and everything in between, to include Los Angeles International Airport and Burbank. I am a proud federal employee, working every day to provide essential services to my community and the flying public. I’m very concerned about the impact this shutdown will have on my family, my neighbors and small businesses in my community.
No one outside of Capitol Hill wanted this shutdown, but here we are. Why should federal employees have to suffer because Congress can’t do their jobs and agree on a budget? Why should taxpayers waste billions in lost productivity from furloughs just so a handful of lawmakers can make a political point?
The answer is simple: This shutdown never should have happened in the first place, and we need to tell Congress that the time for games is over.
While political chess reduces my pay, my expenses remain the same and my job is now at risk. I still must pay the mortgage, the full cost of my health insurance, and put food on the table. And if I am unable to pay my bills due to this new financial hardship, I could lose my security clearance and get fired. How does this keep our nation safe and secure?
How does the government expect us to serve our troops properly when the Department of Defense furloughs its employees? And what about keeping the water supply safe? Good luck, because the Environmental Protection Agency is furloughing its employees, too. What about housing assistance? No help in sight, because the Department of Housing and Urban Development is furloughing its employees.
Have lawmakers thought about how these furloughs will affect the local economy? In communities with large federal facilities local businesses will get hurt when federal employees start losing pay. Could someone from Congress please tell me why they want to hurt small businesses?
I am very proud of the services I provide to the American people and I remain dedicated to serving the public despite these frustrations. However, enough is enough. Congress needs to do their job instead of stopping us from doing ours.
Erich R. Schmidt