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

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.