Government shutdown

'There's only so long that I can hold out'

As the U.S. government shutdown continues, Federal Center workers yearn to get back to work

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Jake Slyder was planning on taking his wife on a hot springs vacation to celebrate their two-year anniversary — but the U.S. government partial shutdown forced him to cancel those plans.

Slyder is one of the more than 50,000 federal workers in Colorado who has been out of work since the U.S. government partial shutdown took effect Dec. 22. As he waits to return to his job Slyder picked up a job driving for the transportation service Lyft.

“The biggest thing is the psychological effects — the uncertainty and anxiety," said Slyder, a Wheat Ridge resident. Slyder is a contract geospatial imaging specialist for the Bureau of Land Management. He declined to say which company he works for, because he wanted to speak as an individual about his own experience. "We have some money tucked away. But how long will (the government shutdown) go on for? There's only so long that I can hold out. It's important to let people hear what people in our situation are going through.”

The U.S. government went into a partial shutdown when President Donald Trump requested more than $5 billion from Congress to be added to federal spending legislation to pay for a wall on the Mexico border. The previous federal spending legislation expired Dec. 21, and when Democrats strongly opposed funding Trump's wall, he refused to step down from his request — leading to the shutdown.

MORE: Shutdown leaves roads unplowed at Rocky Mountain National Park

For Tom Sabel, an agricultural statistician at the Federal Center in Lakewood, this isn't his first rodeo dealing with a government shutdown. The Federal Center is a 623-acre campus that is home to 28 different federal agencies spread across 44 office buildings.

In his 32 years with the government, this is his fourth time dealing with a shutdown as a federal employee. Sabel said he's called Sen. Cory Gardner multiple times each day since the shutdown started, and he recently visited Congressman Ed Perlmutter's office.

“I love my job, it's never a problem for me to go in," said Sabel, a Lakewood resident. "I was dedicated to the cause — and this is what I get.”

Sabel is married and has an 89-year-old mother he assists financially.

“I'm tired of being a pawn in these guys' games," he said.

Gy Moody is a contractor for the Bureau of Land Management, and he has been out of work since the shutdown's first day. All of his coworkers love what they do, he said, and they don't deserve to be out of work.

“I'm trying to figure out how to make $500 stretch another two weeks. The chaos of not knowing what's going to happen is the hardest part,” said Moody, who lives in Wheat Ridge. “I've probably put five miles in just pacing back and forth. Everyone I know just wants to go back to work. We just want our lives back.”

Trump recently stated that he is prepared to continue the partial government shutdown for “months, or even years.”

“Any federal worker I talk to — they're all invested in their jobs," Sabel said. "Who is running this country, man? We didn't elect Rush Limbaugh. I've never seen anything like it, and I never thought I would see anything like this.”

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