Before I retired in 2003, I was a working federal employee who was designated as an "essential employee" and had to work without pay during one of the previous government shutdowns. I remember counting my pennies to be sure I didn't run out of money before I ran out of month. It was a scary time for many of us then just as it is for federal employees today.

The inability of our elected leaders to compromise has led to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. I am proud of my work as a federal employee in service to the country I love. Federal workers nationwide are forced to stay at home and wait for the government to reopen and are no longer able to provide the services on which our fellow Americans rely.

Middle-class federal workers and their families are stretching their pennies until the shutdown is over. Even though pay will be restored eventually, bills still arrive on time even if paychecks don't, and many federal employees are being forced to make difficult and unnecessary financial decisions to make ends meet.

Our legislators in Congress — Mike Simpson, Jim Risch and Mike Crapo — and President Trump need to stop playing partisan political games with our government's services and those who provide them. We are now in a crisis and our leaders must work to promptly reopen the government. We must call them to reach consensus immediately so committed federal employees across the nation and right here at home can get back to work for our country.

Ken Barr

Blackfoot

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