Furloughed federal workers express frustration, financial concerns over shutdown

As the days continue to go on of a partial government shutdown, people throughout the Washington-metro region say they are feeling the pinch.

Virginia Senator Mark Warner held a round table on Wednesday with furloughed workers.

"I am hearing stories of federal workers who cannot make their co-payments on their health care. I am hearing especially about contractors -- especially low income contractors, who have no hope of seeing any money back unless we pass additional legislation to make sure contractors are protected when the government is reopened," said Warner.

"We are seeing businesses like this brewery here who had a new set of brews that they wanted to bring to the market, but since Alcohol and Beverage Control isn't processing applications they can't bring new products to market."

At the invitation of the owner of Port City Brewery, Senator Warner sat down Wednesday with about a dozen furloughed federal workers who wanted to tell their stories.

"My friend and I had the most surreal conversation ever the other day where both of us are full time federal employees and we are talking about if we have applied for unemployment insurance yet, what food banks are we going to go to this week to see about getting some help um you know. It's just insane to have that discussion when you are fully gainfully employed, supposedly, and now you are not getting a paycheck, they told me to go home -- you are not essential. And it stinks and being at home and not knowing," said Joanna McCleland, a furloughed federal worker.

One said they just bought a new car and the creditor is unwilling to yield on a missed payment because the buyer, the furloughed worker, has so far only made one payment.

The stories are endless and with no end in sight to the shutdown workers say they are beginning to panic and rely on food banks to stay alive.

A non-profit in Alexandria, Alive, which has been providing food and other assistance to those in their community for forty years.

This coming Saturday, Alive will be giving out their monthly distribution at three locations in the city and they are not sure what to expect.

"It isn't just a furloughed worker or a contractor it is anybody who is impacted by this government shutdown," said Alive executive director Diane Charles.

"Restaurant employees who are being turned away because fewer people are going to restaurants, or housekeepers who may not be working because you can't afford to pay a housekeeper, so we are doing what we do on a regular basis but we want to try to provide more assistance because we think there are a lot more people we think are affected," she said.

Alive will be holding food drives at John Adams Elementary School, "Chick" Armstrong Recreation Center, and Ladrey high rise.