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Government Shutdown Hits Close To Home At DFAS & Rome Labs

The government shutdown is underway and there's no end in sight. The House of Representatives and Senate spent the better part of Monday debating a short-term spending bill. By midnight, there was no agreement reached, effectively shutting down the government for the first time in 17 years. Eyewitness News visits Defense Finance And Accounting Services or DFAS, and Rome Labs, both located at Griffiss Airforce Base. They're 2 government agencies that could feel the brunt of this shutdown. More than 800,000 federal workers were sent home without pay this morning. Right here at home, DFAS and Rome Labs employ about 1,800 people in our region. Some emplyoees fear they could be furloughed in the coming weeks.
The government shutdown is underway and there's no end in sight.

The House of Representatives and Senate spent the better part of Monday debating a short-term spending bill. By midnight, there was no agreement reached, effectively shutting down the government for the first time in 17 years.

Eyewitness News visits Defense Finance And Accounting Services or DFAS, and Rome Labs, both located at Griffiss Airforce Base. They're 2 government agencies that could feel the brunt of this shutdown.

More than 800,000 federal workers were sent home without pay this morning. Right here at home, DFAS and Rome Labs employ about 1,800 people in our region. Some emplyoees fear they could be furloughed in the coming weeks.

"We have families feeding their children cereal for dinner because they don't have the resources and they're living paycheck to paycheck," says Ed Abounader, Rome DFAS employee and President of the Union representing DFAS.

Last month, DFAS employees were furloughed for 6 days. Abounader says now there's a threat for a second round of furloughs.

"The morale in not knowing whether you're going to be paid or not paid, we have a number of single households affected by this," says Abounader.

Because DFAS is a Defense Working Capital Fund Activity and is not funded directly from congress, the shutdown didn't bring immediate furloughs. Now, Abounader says they're using cash reserves to pay employees, but he says those reserves will dry up in 8 to 10 days.

Sources tell us Rome Labs may also be implementing furloughs. We reached out to officials but they declined to comment. We also tried talking will government workers but they said they were not allowed to talk to the media. One former employee says he still has concerns.

"After 31 years of active duty serivce, I just retired today and unfortunately I'm not sure when I'm gonna get paid," says Anthony Fiorilli, former government employee.

And Fiorilli is one of many, uncertain if and when he'll see another paycheck.

"Frustrating for us civilians to see all this going on and no one can agree on anything," says Fiorilli.

And while thousands of federal employees wait for a government resolution, a political expert says that road to compromise may be a tricky one.

"Federal government is the largest employer. Unemployment is a major component of the economy, so it's gonna impact employment, it's also gonna impact the stock market, the stock market has dropped several points in anticipation of this. It's unclear exactly what the impact will be but in the short term, it's not good, says Luke Perry, Associate Professor of Government at Utica College.

At this point, the DFAS union leader says it's a waiting game. He hopes the government will come to an agreement before the DFAS cash reserves are exhausted, which again, he anticipates will be in 8 to 10 days.

Two previous government shutdowns in the 1990's cost the country $1.4 billion dollars.

CNN made a list detailing how the government shutdown will most impact Americans:

1.) Vacations – National Parks would close and many passports would not be processed
2.) Holidays and celebrations – Many Federal employees who do not work in “critical services” would be furloughed
3.) Military personnel would be paid via IOUs until the shutdown ends
4.) Essential banking functions – including tax collection – will continue
5.) US Postal employees will continue to work; mail will be delivered
6.) Obamacare would still go through because its funding isn’t conditional on the congressional budget’s passage
7.) The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives would be affected – potentially impacting people who try to obtain a gun permit
8.) Trash collection in Washington, DC, would halt because the city’s budget is subject to Congressional approval
9.) The government would pay benefits, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security – among other things considered “mandatory"
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