SAN DIEGO, Calif. — A Miami County native now working as a federal law enforcement officer in California is making sacrifices to continue doing his duties during the government shutdown, but he is still feeling the pressure of not receiving a paycheck.
“We’re working without pay, and we need to get paid,” said Jack Mahrt, an officer stationed at the border in California with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Mahrt currently works 12-hour shifts plus mandatory overtime and commute time, and has been doing so without getting paid for nearly a month.
“So much is expected of us,” Mahrt said.
Mahrt said that he has been feeling frustration, angst, and bitterness during the government shutdown that began on Dec. 22, and he is encouraging people to contact their representatives in federal government to implore them to find a way to end the shutdown.
“People need to contact their local congressmen,” Mahrt said.
Mahrt explained that federal employees are dealing with a number of sacrifices as a result of this government shutdown, from using savings, if they have any, to pay for personal bills, to strains being put on relationships, and to even what food they can afford to eat.
“We’ve had to sacrifice everything,” Mahrt said. He added later, “I’m basically getting by on granola bars and candy bars.”
Mahrt, who lives in California now, said that rent is around $2,300. “I still have to pay that rent,” he said.
In addition to not receiving their paychecks, some federal employees like Mahrt are also having to use their own money to do their jobs, such as paying for travel expenses. Mahrt said that those expenses are adding up for him as well.
Mahrt is in support of a physical border, but he said that while “the wall definitely needs to be secured” that it “can’t come at the peril of families or officers.” He said that federal employees should not be in the middle of a “political football” match.
While Mahrt does not have any children or house payments, he has seen other officers struggle with paying child support or paying their mortgages during the shutdown.
“Everything is on hold,” he said.
Mahrt said that the only option is getting the government open. He has tried to keep the stress of the situation from affecting his relationships, but the shutdown is affecting his personal well-being and morale, he said.
“It’s been very stressful,” Mahrt said.
For those federal employees who have had to dip into their savings, Mahrt said, “They make no money for 2019,” because they will be “repaying themselves back” in 2019 once the government shutdown ends.
Mahrt said that he has not seen a paycheck since before the shutdown began, and this week is the first week that the Coast Guard is not receiving a paycheck as well.
“It’s imperative that the government restart,” he said.
Mahrt said that he plans to resign if the shutdown continues much longer, but that is a last resort. He has been working as a federal law enforcement officer for over 11 years. He has been through three previous government shutdowns as a federal officer, and one previously in 1995 when he was in the U.S. Navy.
Mahrt said that this shutdown — the longest in U.S. history — is “absolutely the worst.” He said that this government shutdown has been “stagnating,” and he sees no end in sight.
“It’s very frustrating,” he said.
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org