Late in the day, came news that House Republicans may be willing to lift the debt ceiling without ending the shutdown. The Associated Press reported House Republican leaders are considering a short-term increase in the nation’s debt limit as one way out of an impasse that threatens the nation with an unprecedented financial default.
These officials said there is less urgency among GOP leaders about ending a partial shutdown of the government, now in its ninth day, according to the AP report.
For most government workers, the impasse shouldn’t mean lost money even if they are on furlough or working without pay.
Republicans and Democrats have agreed to eventually pay furloughed employees for missed days of work, and the government is obligated to eventually reimburse employees for all non-pay work days during the shutdown.
Until those reimbursement checks arrive, employees would need to rely on cash holdings to make up any shortfall between their last paycheck and current bills.
At the Miami Federal Credit Union, headquartered in downtown’s Claude Pepper Federal Building, executives rolled out a special “Furlough Relief Loan” that lets a worker borrow up to $3,000 interest-free for 60 days. An interest rate of 12 percent kicks in after two months, but the union said the loan is designed for workers to pay off the balance “when Congress gets over this nonsense” and reimburses workers for lost pay, said Athan “Buster” Castiglia, the credit union’s president.
As of Thursday morning, Castiglia said about 30 federal workers had applied for the loan this week. One woman earning about $55,000 a year told Castiglia she does not have enough reserves to go very long without pay.
“She has her light bill, the mortgage on her house,’’ Castiglia said. “She’s one of the mass of people in the United States that are living one paycheck away from the street. All you need is something like this.”
Pay cycles differ for employees, and the logistics of actually receiving the money can vary. Ross said she expects her direct-deposit payment to arrive in her bank account on Tuesday.
For Nabil Salem, a translator who works for federal courts in Miami, the shutdown brought an immediate drop in assignments. “I got two calls last week instead of 20,” he said. That will mean a big decline in revenue once his paycheck arrives Friday.
“You cut down on your groceries, eating out, and anything that’s related to entertainment,’’ said Salem, an Arabic speaker who works in both criminal cases and for immigration hearings, which have been suspended. “I spend more time at home.”
The Public Insight Network assisted with this article. It is an online community of people who have agreed to share their opinions with The Miami Herald and WLRN. Become a source at Miami Herald.com/insight. This report was supplemented with information from Bloomberg, The Associated Press and McClatchy’s Washington Bureau.