Kansas City faces outsized impact of looming government shutdown


Many federal workers have experienced shutdowns before and some face losing income at particularly inconvenient times. A government shutdown will cause a lot of pain for people outside Washington. The majority of federal workers are located outside Washington, D.C. The federal government, for example, is the largest employer of people in the greater Kansas City area, where 41,000 people could lose their jobs temporarily. It looks more like a leafy old university than a military stronghold, once you get past the four to five gates, which are getting another upgrade. It looks more like a leafy old university than a military stronghold – that is, once you get past the four to five gates, which are getting another upgrade.


JASON BORTZ: We are primarily a training installation training and developing leaders for the United States Army.

MORRIS: Jason Bortz, public affairs officer here, says all that training comes to an abrupt stop, and this bustling post goes a whole lot quieter Monday if the government sends him and close to 4,000 other civilian staff and professors home.

BORTZ: And while you are sent home or furloughed, you are not allowed to do any work. I cannot check my email. It’s stressful. Bortz and wife have already cut back on grocery purchases. He won’t get paid during the furlough.

BORTZ: Kind of like COVID. I mean, even COVID had an impact. And we just – you get through it, and at the end of the day, we’ll make it up somehow.

MORRIS: You know what’s worse than staying home with no pay? Working without pay. Active duty soldiers, like Captain Benjamin Harney, will work without pay in a shutdown. Harney has four small children at home with his wife. His mother-in law, who lives in Texas, is waiting to help. And they’ve been fortifying their bank account.

BENJAMIN HARNEY: And we have some money put away in savings for rainy day funds. I can survive for a short time without being paid. My real concern would be, you know, not every service member is fortunate enough to have that fallback.

MORRIS: The shutdown would stop pay but not demands for payments – cars, food, credit cards, mortgages. Some banks are already marketing low, even zero-interest loans to help military personnel make ends meet through a shutdown.


AUTOMATED VOICE: If you’re calling about Navy Federal’s government shutdown loan program, press one.

MORRIS: But federal employees outside the military are less protected. Myrtle Bailey, a federal worker in Kansas City says it’s time to grow up. It’s really time to grow up, put on your big-girl and big-boy panties and adult ’cause this is serious.

MORRIS: Bailey and her husband both wor for the IRS processing center in Kansas City.

BAILEY: We are – exposed is a good word (laughter). But it’s not our first rodeo.

MORRIS: Bailey faced down a 35-day partial shutdown almost five years ago and says that now is the time to get resources in order.

BAILEY: This week you should be checking with your church, checking with food banks, checking with things you may not have had to use before.

MORRIS: Bailey, who describes herself as 69 years wonderful, has savings to draw on but not enough to weather a prolonged shutdown. She wants lawmakers to run the government like a company that cannot afford not to pay its employees. For NPR News, I’m Frank Morris in Kansas City.


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