"We do live paycheck by paycheck": Federal workers struggle as shutdown continues

By Rob Legare

/ CBS News

Government shutdown continues

Erin Kidwell is an employee at Mt. Hood National Forest in Oregon and a mother of two. She's also one of hundreds of thousands of federal workers whose position has been furloughed over Christmas during the partial government shutdown.

"We do live paycheck by paycheck. I heard a Congressman say that we didn't, but we do," she told CBS News.

Kidwell said many federal workers take their jobs in part because of the security of working with the government. But with an impasse in budget negotiations between the White House and lawmakers over President Trump's $5 billion demand for a border wall, Kidwell and her husband, who is also a furloughed federal employee, face an uncertain future.

"The hardest part is the demoralizing of our employment," she said. "Playing around with our jobs like they're a political game."

On Tuesday morning, Mr. Trump said the government would not reopen until congressional leaders approve his request for border wall funding. "I can tell you, it's not going to be open until we have a wall," he told reporters.

Trump says shutdown will continue until border wall demand is met

Kidwell said her family's economic future looks increasingly bleak because she and her husband do not know if they will receive compensation as the government remains partially closed.

Although she has some funds saved from her yearly "fire assignment" — which the Oregon resident said she accepts for the boost in pay it provides — Kidwell said this is an expensive time of year.

"I need my paycheck. We all have mortgages and bills we have to pay," she said. "We're already struggling."

For short-term economic relief, and to make sure her family will be able to pay next year's bills, Kidwell said she plans to file for unemployment benefits. She also expressed concern about her furloughed coworkers.

"One just bought a new house and has a lot of expenses coming up," she said. "Another one took back some Christmas gifts this year."

Despite these challenges, Kidwell said she and her colleagues "will work hard and get our job done, but it's very stressful and I know morale is low." Kidwell said all she wishes for this Christmas is to "not be furloughed."

First published on December 25, 2018

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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