News / USA

DC Businesses Provide Freebies for Furloughed Government Workers

Washington Businesses Provide Freebies for Furloughed Government Workersi
X
October 02, 2013 6:45 PM
The U.S. Government shutdown rolls on. Lawmakers have yet to reach common ground, and that means that nearly 800,000 government workers throughout the country stay home. Nowhere is the concentration of federal workers higher than in Washington, D.C. An entire city is packed with a newly-furloughed workforce, and some area businesses are chipping in. Arash Arabasadi has this story for VOA.
Arash Arabasadi
— The U.S. Government shutdown rolls on. Lawmakers have yet to reach common ground, and that means that nearly 800,000 government workers throughout the country stay home. Nowhere is the concentration of federal workers higher than in Washington, D.C. An entire city is packed with a newly-furloughed workforce, and some area businesses are chipping in.

One thing the shutdown has not done is close the doors of local businesses.
 
“We’re doing a free cup of regular coffee for any government worker that’s been affected by the shutdown, but in addition to that, we’re making members of Congress pay double,” said Zena Polin, an owner of The Daily Dish, a pizza restaurant in suburban Maryland. When she got word of the shutdown, she took to the Web [Internet] and announced free coffee. So far, the response has been good.  

“I’m getting a free coffee because I am a federal employee who is not allowed to go to work today,” said Amy Henchey, who works for the IRS.

“On the one hand it feels a little bit like I’m playing hooky [skipping school]. On the other hand, I’m a little nervous about not getting a full paycheck,” said Jeri Buchholz, who works at NASA.

What Does a U.S. Government Shutdown Mean?

  • Large parts of the federal government need to be funded each year to operate
  • If Congress cannot agree on how to fund them, those parts of the government shut down
  • During a shutdown, federal workers are separated into excepted and non-excepted employees
  • Excepted must continue to work, and will be paid when Congress funds the government again
  • Non-excepted are furloughed and not guaranteed to receive back-pay
  • Parts of the government dealing with national security and public safety and those with independent funding like the Postal Service continue to operate
  • Other parts shut down, including National Parks, the EPA and the processing of visa and passport applications
  • The last government shutdown lasted 21 days and ended on January 6, 1996
There is no guarantee the furloughed workers will eventually get paid. That uncertainty motivated the owners of Washington’s Kangaroo Boxing Club [bar and restaurant] to offer free screwdrivers - the drink, not the tool.

“We decided that if the government was screwing [taking advantage of] you, you might as well get a free screwdriver,” said Christopher Powers at the Kangaroo Boxing Club.

“I came here because it seemed like a time to wallow in the furlough woes. I came to have a drink special,” said Renee Regan, who work at Smithsonian.

How The Shutdown is Affecting Services

  • About 800,000 federal workers furloughed
  • The military's 1.4 million active-duty personnel remain on duty, their paychecks delayed
  • NASA is furloughing almost all its employees
  • Air traffic controllers and screeners staying on the job
  • Federal courts continue to operate
  • Mail deliveries continue since U.S. Postal Service is not funded by tax dollars
  • Most Homeland Security employees continue to work
  • Most veterans' services continue because they are funded in advance
  • National Parks and Smithsonian museums closing
Despite the light mood on the first day of the shutdown, real concerns await the recently-out-of-work.

“In the back of my mind I know that I have to budget and try to figure out how much money I’m not going to be getting in my next paycheck,” said Elizabeth Bowers, who works for the Defense Department.

“It’s really going to hurt my rent check that is going to be late, very late,” said Regan.

Just a few blocks away is DC Reynolds. It's been offering a buy-one-get-one drink special since 11 this morning. Owner, Jeremy Gifford said, “These people live in the neighborhood.  They support us 365 days a year, so the one day or two days - hopefully it’s not too long - that they are maybe a little bit tight on cash - figured we’d help them out.”

Even with free drinks, people here seem angry about the lack of Congressional leadership.

“I think it’s absolutely ridiculous. This Congress has, maybe - this is their most important job is to make sure they actually keep their funding going and they were unable to do that,” said Nicholas Werner, a government employee.

“It’s just extremely frustrating. It shouldn’t have come to this,” said Brian, who works for the IRS.

“The people that are in charge of funding the government - they’re still getting paid through all this. So, they’re just playing Ping-Pong and playing games with 800,000 jobs,” said Tia, a federal worker.

It’s only the beginning of the government shutdown. And no one knows for sure what’s next for Washington. But at least those who live here know they can count on each other.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid