“We hate the word non-essential.” Government shutdown costs Atlantans

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AP

With a busy week ahead, Candy Burns Waylock on Saturday was getting ready to head back to Atlanta from a weekend trip, so she’d be ready to report for work Monday at the Center for Domestic Preparedness. Turns out, she won’t be going. The government shutdown will cancel her plans and cost her a paycheck.

“We hate the word non-essential,” said Waylock, a contract employee who leads risk and crisis communications training at the Center, a FEMA Homeland Security asset in Aniston, Ala. “When everyone talks about, ‘it’s no big deal, it’s paid vacation for people,’ it’s not for contractors. We do lose money.”

MORE: How the shutdown will affect Georgia 

As Washington correspondent Jamie Dupree reported, the U.S. Senate on Friday night blocked a House-passed bill to fund operations of the federal government for the next four weeks, as most Democrats joined with a handful of Republicans to filibuster the spending measure, demanding faster action on immigration matters, driving the Congress toward the first federal government shutdown since 2013.The vote was 50 to 49 – 60 votes were needed.

“It’s irresponsible,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “The government may be shutting down, but the Senate is not,” as he vowed to keep voting and pursuing a spending deal.

“This is no way to run a business,” said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer, who blamed Republicans for the impasse, labeling it the “Trump Shutdown,” while the White House called it the “Schumer Shutdown.”

Candy Burns Waylock had a busy week ahead, until she didn’t. The government shut down abruptly changed her plans.

Waylock, who’s been through a government shutdown in the past, and her colleagues are thoroughly nonpartisan about things.

“You hate the politics. I’m going back and forth talking to my fellow instructors,” she said. “It’s not about that at all.”

With her son, a college student, planning to transfer schools, she worked in the quick trip to Texas to help him prepare. In between the packing she kept a steady eye on the proceedings in Washington.

“We’ve all kind of been on alert,” she said. “I sat there glued to the television watching the countdown clock.”

For now, she’s hopeful negotiations in Washington will bring about resolution. Either way, the shutdown means she’s out some compensation. As a contractor she is employed by an third party staffing company, not directly by FEMA. She also thinks about the hundreds of responders who now must cancel travel plans, to say nothing of the folks in Aniston, whose economy is impacted when hundreds of people either come to town for training sessions – or don’t.

“It disrupts a lot of people,” she said. “You’ve got students all across the country who have been waiting to get into this training. You’re canceling all those people. It’s kind of crazy.”


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