How partial government shutdown is affecting one Tampa family

10/02/13 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:
Tags: Tampa, Army, government shutdown, National Guard


Erik Kirby, with his son.

photo by Susan Kirby, used by permission

President Barack Obama has summoned congressional leaders to the White House the second day of a partial government shutdown.

House Speaker John Boehner's office says the invitation is a sign that the president might be backing down.

But an Obama adviser said the president would urge House Republicans to pass a spending bill that didn't include provisions on health care or other demands.

Meanwhile, there have been some rumblings from Republicans who want to reopen the government. GOP member of Congress Peter King is accusing lawmakers supported by the tea party of trying to hijack the Republican Party. And he said he believes a growing number of rank-and-file GOP lawmakers are tired of the shutdown.

But Republican leaders seem determined to press on, announcing plans to pass five bills to open popular parts of the government. The White House immediately promised a veto.

"I work as a civilian, a human resources technician. I do a lot of stuff for readiness for an Army Reserve unit. As a civilian I also have to be in the Army Reserve so it's called a dual status employee. Our main job is to make sure units are ready to deploy."

And there's an Army Reserve unit in the Tampa area?

"There's several Army Reserve units in Tampa. I work at a brigade, actually, in St. Petersburg and we have units all throughout Florida that we manage."

Well the government had a partial shutdown yesterday, tell us how that's affecting you and what the shutdown is like for you.

"Yesterday we went in and worked for four hours to shut down the offices and hand off on it to active duty soldiers that also work with us so we handed off our duties to them. The work force is going to be cut by about 50 percent, half of the people that do this are civilians the other half are active duty soldiers. Right now I'm on unpaid leave and their telling us not to expect to be reimbursed like in previous government shutdowns."

I imagine it's got to be pretty tough for you to have no paycheck. How are you making it? What's your family doing?

"We do have some savings, we're going to work on that. I'm also going to apply for unemployment benefits, I'm not sure when or how much is available to me. In case this drags on I want to make sure my application is in and I'm also going to be looking for other work, odd jobs or something to try to bring in some income. It just happened yesterday so today's the day to get all of that started."

Finally, what would you like the federal government to do?

"I'd like them to reopen the government. I think this is not the way to conduct business for any organization, to shut it down when you don't get what you want. I just want them to come together, find some kind of solution and get the government open again. Ultimately I'd like to get a budget passed. It's my understanding that we've been on continuing resolutions for a long time. An actual budget would be nice."

For a look at how the partial government shut down is affecting a family in Tampa, WMNF spoke with Erik Kirby, who is a staff administrative assistant for the Army Reserve.

Meanwhile, top European officials say they are keeping a worried eye on the U.S. government shutdown, saying it could pose a risk for the continent's fledgling recovery.

information from the Associated Press was used in this report

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