ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Nearly a week into the U.S. Government shutdown, some of New Mexico’s furloughed federal workers say Washington D.C.’s problem is on course to financially harm their lives and on Sunday, they got a chance to tell that to one of their U.S. Congressional representatives.
Eleven people including furloughed employees and their husbands and wives met with Congresswoman Michele Lujan Grisham to air their grievances, saying they’re on brink of missing huge monthly bills.
The federal employees at Sunday’s meeting came from various agencies including IRS, Kirtland Air Force Base and the Forest Service. However, the group all shares the same problem.
“Both of our incomes are gone,” said Richard Kuntz, an IRS employee who’s wife also works with the IRS.
“I've got car payments, I've got car insurances, what do I pay,” said Tracyjayne Ife, an employee with the US Forest Service. "We work our hardest, do we really deserve this?"
“Those of us who have security clearances, we don't have the option not to pay our bills,” said Glenda Villegas, an employee with Kirtland Air Force Base.
The entire group isn’t getting paid because of the shutdown and like everyone else, they’re facing big bills. Lujan Grisham called the workers together in hopes to get a better picture of the shutdown's impact. She says what she's heard is shocking.
“They're actually collecting baby food and diapers to help people make ends meat. They're being told by some of their banking institutions and credit cards that their credit ranking is going to be destroyed if they don't make their payments on time,” said Lujan Grisham.
Furloughed IRS employees Emma and Richard Kuntz have no income due to the shutdown. They've called utilities to warn about the problem, but say so far, the response has been frustrating.
“They don't have anything set up for federal employees,” said Richard Kuntz.
Villegas says mortgages are another big worry for the people she works with at Kirtland, re-counting a story about one airman’s attempt to be proactive about missing his home loan payment.
“He said, ‘I know I am not going to make my mortgage … what function do you have for me to call, who can talk to?’ and they said, ‘Sir, we really don't have anything set up for that,’” said Villegas.
Lujan Grisham says she wants to see the government funded immediately but won't vote for a bill that defunds “ObamaCare,” saying doing that would set a precedent that any party who doesn't like a law can shut the government down until it gets changed.
“If they do that, that means that we would never get anything done. Democracy could never work in this country again,” said Lujan Grisham.
The Congresswoman says in the next few days, she's hoping to network local and national banks in hopes of getting some kind of help for federal workers in danger of missing loan payments. Lujan Grisham says she also spoke with representatives at Sandia National Labs this weekend who told her that they have enough money to keep running through October, but they’ll have a “skeleton crew” after that.
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