Upon reading an op-ed, “Government Shutdown is Hurting Thousands of Federal Employees with Disabilities” in The Hill, I’m compelled to call on Congress and the President Trump to stop posturing and fighting for turf like the Sharks and the Jets did in West Side Story. Officer Krupsky, should the disability community be deprived because our politicians have become depraved?
Of the 800,000 hardworking people impacted by the government shutdown, nearly 250,000 have a disability. The US federal government is the world’s largest employer of professionals with disabilities and the nation’s largest employer of our military veterans, many of whom have a service-connected disability.
The government ensured that Ability is a protected class alongside Race, Gender, Orientation, and Religion in our workplaces. These groups are protected classes because they are at-risk of societal marginalization. Few things marginalize people faster than having their ability to earn an income taken from them.
Congress and Donald Trump must come to understand how much this shutdown especially affects those with a disability, people who already deal with personal and physical challenges on top of their everyday problems. People with disabilities face a wide variety of barriers and hurdles daily, but none more so when it comes to employment and independence.
Lives are being turned upside down because of this turf war. People are forced to sell their wedding rings and other valuables just to make ends meet. I wonder if the thousands of federal employees and contract workers, cut off from an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, will ever rebound from the financial setbacks imposed upon them by people in the White House and on Capitol Hill.
When the dust finally settles on the longest government shutdown in history, I worry about how catastrophic the economic outcomes will be. I’m reminded about the economic hardships that the air traffic controllers experienced because of the shut down during the Reagan administration and how it took many over a decade to get back on track.
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame said, “Let no one think that flexibility and a predisposition to compromise is a sign of weakness or a sell-out.”
Congressional leaders and the Mr. Trump must heed these words as they continue to fight over funding the government. They must not forget the hundreds of thousands of workers impacted by their inability to compromise.
When will our relatives, friends, and neighbors get back to work? It’s easy to forget about all the moving pieces, cogs, and wheels working in unison to keep the greatest nation on earth running smoothly. Behind the curtain of this big machine are real people trying to support their families. They are people who ensure each plane lands safely, who inspect our food for purity, who process our tax refunds, and who protect our borders.
Knowing all this, I wonder if they truly believe that this shutdown is the best approach to solving our national issues or if this is more about advancing political dogma and personal agendas.