Federal workers get advice for paying bills during shutdown

The National Archives building was closed on Saturday, the first full day of a partial government shutdown likely to last through Christmas. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)(WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)
WASHINGTON — It appears the partial government shutdown will be handed off to a divided government to solve, as agreement eludes D.C. in the waning days of the Republican monopoly on power.

Congress is closing out the week without a resolution in sight over the issue that’s holding up an agreement: President Donald Trump’s demand for money to build a southern border wall and Democrats’ refusal to give him what he wants.

Now nearly a week old, the impasse is leading to concerns for hundreds of thousands of federal employees.

The Office of Personnel Management is offering advice to federal workers who cannot pay their bills due to the shutdown holding up their paychecks.

“Speak with your landlord, mortgage company or creditor,” OPM suggested. “Speaking with your creditors will enable you to work out the details of any payment plan.”

OPM advised federal workers to have conversations directly with their creditor, working out a reduced payment plan and then sending a letter to the person with whom they spoke.

The letter should include the employee’s phone number, address and all the details that were discussed, OPM said. 

The office also provided some sample letters that employees can use.

For instance, one of the letters starts with “I am a federal employee who has recently been furloughed due to a lack of funding of my agency. Because of this, my income has been severely cut and I am unable to pay the entire cost of my mortgage, along with my other expenses.”

For employees who are able to work out a reduced payment plan, OPM said it is important to note that the workers will be responsible for paying the remainder of what they owe after the shutdown ends.

OPM stressed, however, that it cannot provide employees with formal, personal legal advice on how to deal with creditors.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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