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Workers Affected By Shutdown Talk About What It Means For Them

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The end of 2018 is approaching. But the end of the government shutdown is nowhere in sight. And it appears very little is being done to change that. Congress is at home. The president is on Twitter. And it appears the cable news networks will have to decide which of their countdown clocks to keep - the countdown to New Year's Eve or the shutdown clock counting up. This leaves hundreds of thousands of federal workers in limbo, like Lisa Jones of Mobile County, Ala. She works for NOAA as a fisheries biologist and was in the middle of planning a research trip to the Gulf of Mexico.

LISA JONES: This is an important time of year as far as getting ready for our surveys, which start in March, procuring equipment, supplies. I know that some of the things I had already ordered should have been delivered. So I don't know what will happen to them now that we're closed. It's going to be a lot of catch-up work to get back to where I was.

FADEL: Jones was one of dozens of federal workers who responded to our call-out about the impact of the shutdown.

KEELEY LYONS-LETTS: My name is Keeley. I work for the National Park Service.

FADEL: That's Keeley Lyons-Letts (ph) of Tucson, Ariz. She's a park ranger and leads education programs giving kids access to nature. But with the shutdown, all canceled.

LYONS-LETTS: These are underprivileged kids that might not have any other way of getting out to the park if we don't have this program for them.

FADEL: And then there's Kristie Scarazzo of Ventura, Calif. She recently landed her dream job as a botanist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

KRISTIE SCARAZZO: And my job is to keep a pulse on those species and, for some of the most imperiled, essentially, to prevent them from going extinct.

FADEL: For Scarazzo, the timing of the shutdown is especially challenging.

SCARAZZO: I am very worried. I just moved to the area in September for this job. And I drained my savings account in the move. So it is a source of great anxiety.

FADEL: What are you doing to try to prepare for what might be coming?

SCARAZZO: Well, the only thing I've done to date is to fill out a state unemployment application, which I know won't be the full compensation. I've never had public assistance before. So I have, you know, mixed feelings about that. One thing I did this morning was go through my budget and look at some areas that I could maybe trim down. I got a couple quotes for a cheaper auto insurance. I don't really have a plan, which is unfortunate.

FADEL: What do you want lawmakers and the administration to know about the consequences of this shutdown as they try to strike a deal - the consequences for you personally being impacted?

SCARAZZO: I think, at the end of the day, you know, we just have to remember that there are individuals that are trying to make it work and support their families. You know, there's a lot of people that take great pride in being a public servant and being able to do the jobs that we do. And it's just an unfortunate situation.

FADEL: Well, I hope this gets solved so that you can get back to work. Thank you so much, Kristie.

SCARAZZO: Thank you.

FADEL: That's Kristie Scarazzo of Ventura, Calif. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.