Government Shutdown Forces Thousands to Stay Home

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- Thousands of federal workers remain at home tonight because of the government shutdown.

Some federal agencies furloughed a majority of their staff, while others may remain open with most or all of their staff members still working.

U.S. courts are open, but only for ten days on the money available to keep them running.

The list of agencies partially closed or not able to function showed that in some cases only 6 percent of an agency's staff is working.

800,000 people considered nonessential federal workers didn't walk into work today.

Of the more than 100 federal agencies, many of them were not able to function or partially closed.

Kevin Hall with Senator Mark Warner's office said Virginia may be one of the hardest hit states by the furloughs.

"More than 150,000 are full-time civilian federal employees and the overwhelming majority are at home today they are not doing the work they love," said Hall.

Senator Warner's office is running on a skeleton staff, only five people.

As for the EPA, only 6 percent of its staff are working.

Ability One, an agency who work on behalf of the blind, has no one working.

But 83 percent of USDA's food inspection service staff is at work today.

"They are young bright, They work long hours and not paid very much. They have student loans they have to repay and rent and we are aware of this hardship," said Hall

"If your absence going to be a threat to public health," said JMU political science professor Dr. Bob Roberts

Roberts explains that reason alone is the Office of Personnel Management's first guideline issued to federal agencies about who is sent home which is why food inspectors are working and important to folks here in the Valley.

"Without them the plant would not produce poultry they would have to shutdown because federal law requires any meat sold has to be inspected by federal inspectors," said Roberts.

It is up to each agency to determine who is essential and if you call many of these agencies, you will be left on the line for some time.

Like other Senators and Congressmen, Warner is donating his pay during the government shutdown to the United Way Relief Fund to help federal worker families during a time of crisis.


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