The agency that handles the federal workforce suggested that furloughed workers affected financially by the government shutdown could offer to pay only some portions of bills and suggested contacting lawyers to deal with creditors.
The Office of Personnel Management also said the workers could use form letters posted on the agency’s website, according to a report by Reuters.
“I am a Federal employee who has recently been furloughed due to a lack of funding of my agency,” reads one of three templates. “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.”
Leaders in Congress and President Trump couldn’t reach an agreement over government funding, affecting about 800,000 employees’ incomes. About one-fourth of all government agencies went into shutdown mode on Dec. 21.
The president said he will wait as long as it takes until he gets what he wants: funding for a wall against the Mexican border, which could cost an estimated $5 billion.
The opposing party seems prepared to wait until they retake control of the House of Representatives on Jan. 3. Furloughed workers will get paid through the pay period of Dec. 22, but everything after that is in question.
About 420,000 workers will continue to do their jobs without pay, and about 380,000 have been told to not come into work. A spokesperson for the American Federation of Government Employees said templates for workers to send to creditors were drafted during a 2013 shutdown.
“It is business as usual,” Ashley De Smeth said. “It is up to each agency to decide how to use them.”
When Reuters reached out to the Office of Personnel Management for a comment, the agency said it wasn’t able to respond because of the shutdown.
“Due to a lapse in appropriations, OPM responses to incoming media (requests) may be delayed,” an email from the office said told the news organization.