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Furloughed government workers struggle to pay bills on day 35 of shutdown

Posted at 5:20 PM, Jan 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-25 18:28:29-05

OLATHE, Kan.  — Despite leaders in Washington reaching a deal Friday to re-open the federal government - at least temporarily - the effects of the shutdown continued to be felt in Kansas City.

"I knew when I left my shift at 2:30 p.m. on December 21, there was a good chance that I wouldn't be reporting to work the following Monday, but I didn't expect it to go on this long," said Patricia Binkley, a tax examiner for the IRS.

And 35 days later, Binkley hasn't worked.

"I want Congress to do their job so I can do mine," she said Friday.

Binkley was one of about a dozen furloughed workers who went to Sen. Jerry Moran's (R - Kansas) office in Olathe to voice their frustrations.

"We're people; We're not pawns as I feel as though we are being treated as pawns in this situation," said furloughed IRS worker Rebecca Sullivan.

Sullivan said she's not unlike other furloughed workers in figuring out how to pay the bills and deal with situations outside their control.

"Which ones are due next and what can wait and which creditors will work with me, it's definitely a juggling process," Sullivan said.

Financial advisors say asking for help can be a humbling experience, but worth it.

"I really want people to find and use all the resources that you can," said Rick Krapes, a financial advisor with Country Financial in Olathe. "If you use those resources, they you can use your money in a more powerful way to actually take the next step to advance yourself."

Luckily for Binkley, her creditors helped her out, for now.

"I was able to secure an emergency loan for $1,000 from my credit union so I could at least cover my rent for next month," she said.

With the President and Congress agreeing to a deal to end the shutdown, Binkley and thousands like her will receive backpay. Despite that, the scars of this shutdown will stay with her.

"It's making me lose faith in the system," she said. "We elected these people to represent us."