Metro federal employees happy to go back to work, get paid with shutdown over

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After a shutdown that lasted more than a month, President Donald Trump announced he reached a deal to temporarily reopen the federal government.

That’s welcome news for many local furloughed employees.

On Friday, Trump signed a temporary spending bill to open the federal government for three weeks until Feb. 15. Both the House and Senate approved the measure.

The president said he believes the three weeks “stop gap” funding will lead to serious negotiations for his efforts to get money for border security, including a wall.

It was the longest shutdown in American history. About 800,000 workers have gone without pay for five weeks, and many of those workers without paychecks have struggled.

Furloughed employees who talked to FOX4 say they’re excited, relieved and they’re ready to get back to work after 35 days of stress.

“I’m so excited,” said Knikkia Jefferson, a clerk at the IRS. “No one can feel the relief that I feel right now.”

The single mom of three young children couldn’t pay her bills during the shutdown, but now she’s proud to be a provider again.

“I was so worried about being homeless,” Jefferson said. “Now that I’m able to go back to work, I will have no more to worry about.”

During the shutdown, many businesses in the metro offered deals and discounts to show support to furloughed employees.

Stephanie Doolan and Lance Avey are co-workers at the EPA and took Boulevard Brewery up on its offer for free beer during the shutdown a few times a week. They’re more than ready to get their normal lives back.

Stephanie Doolan

“Both me and my wife are federal employees,” Avey said. “I was furloughed; she was working without pay. We went a month without income or knowing what’s going to happen next. It just kind of puts your life on hold.”

There are still come uncertainties about the reopening of the government. The funding measure to reopen the government is good through Feb. 15.

“It feels like an ax hanging over your head,” Doolan said.

But Doolan, who has worked for the EPA for more than 20 years, said she tries to mentor her younger co-workers through the stress.

“It can be hard on them if they don’t know what to expect,” Doolan said. “They don’t know how much time they’re going to be off. That’s all really frightening for them, so I spend a lot of time trying to reassure the federal employees that I work with.”

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