Federal employees in Central Valley continue to work without pay, but wonder when it will end

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A bum ankle isn't keeping Anthony Booth from earning a paycheck.

The government shutdown means Booth and his fellow correctional officers at U.S. Penitentiary Atwater will work without paychecks until Congress and President Trump agree to fund the government again.

"Oh, we always joke about it at work. We're like, 'Hey, what's up, fellow volunteers?'" said Booth.

But what they're hearing from Congressional Democrats and the White House isn't encouraging.

"The discussions have broken down. We do expect this to go on for a while," acting White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, said in news conference.

Just like 31% of federal employees, Booth is a veteran.

The Marine settled in the Central Valley with his wife and two kids a few years ago and found housing he could afford.

He got the family through Christmas and says they'll make rent this month, but if his next paycheck evaporates, he might need to call his landlord.

"If it comes up and continues into February, I will be contacting him, like 'Hey, look, we're shut down. I'm getting a paycheck. Can I be late without penalty?' Hopefully, I've never been late, but I've never had to talk with them about this, so hopefully he'll work with me," Booth said.

Eviction isn't the only fear.

Booth wants to buy a house, so potential damage to his credit could set back his plans by years.

And here's what the government has to offer him: A series of sample letters asking creditors and landlords to cut him a break.

One of the letters Booth got from the Office of Personnel Management even suggested offering to trade painting or carpentry work to reduce the rent.

The office removed that letter from their samples, but they've done little to remove Booth's stress.

"This is adding to it. We're good now. We have a house. We have food. We can get around a little bit and we have great health insurance, so that's at least helping out a little bit, more than most. But when's it going to run out?" he said.

About 800,000 federal employees are asking themselves the same question.
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