As the partial government shutdown continues, some 380,000 federal employees have been furloughed, with another 420,000 expected to continue working without pay. Now, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has released sample letters for those federal workers to send to creditors, mortgage companies, and landlords explaining why they are unable to meet their financial obligations.
Feds, here are sample letters you may use as a guide when working with your creditors during this furlough. If you need legal advice please consult with your personal attorney. https://t.co/t6h6OzALsS
— OPM (@USOPM) December 27, 2018
“As we discussed, 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,” the sample letter reads. It goes on to suggest making reduced payments and explains that each employee will be responsible for reimbursing the full amount of money owed once they have returned to work.
In the meantime, the letters suggest creating a “plan to take care of the reduced payments.” This initially included a sample letter meant for landlords suggesting “the possibility of trading my services to perform maintenance (e.g. painting, carpentry work) in exchange for partial rent payments,” though that sample letter was subsequently removed from the OPM posting.
The OPM tweet has also been criticized for recommending that unpaid employees consult with a “personal attorney” for legal advice, pointing out that personal attorneys also tend to expect payment for services rendered. It is, however, important to note that similar sample letters were released by the OPM during previous shutdowns under other administrations.
President Trump has stated that government employees, of which some 800,000 will be missing their first paycheck of the new year, support his decision to keep the government partially shut down until he secures additional funding for a border wall between the United States and Mexico. The wall was a prominent part of President Trump’s election campaign, though along the route to the White House he repeatedly assured the American people that Mexico, rather than the United States, would fund its construction. That idea has since vanished from the president’s talking points, as he now appears fully committed to funding the wall with U.S. tax dollars instead.
Trump later took to Twitter to say that most of the government employees that weren’t getting paid were Democrats, in an apparent effort to push Democratic leaders toward yielding to his demands.
Have the Democrats finally realized that we desperately need Border Security and a Wall on the Southern Border. Need to stop Drugs, Human Trafficking,Gang Members & Criminals from coming into our Country. Do the Dems realize that most of the people not getting paid are Democrats?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 27, 2018
Although there is no evidence that the majority of the 800,000 unpaid government employees are actually Democrats, many have criticized the president for treating the two political parties like separate nationalities, as though his role as president does not include serving those in the federal workforce with differing political views. Those who support the president’s decision to keep the government partially shut down until he secures the funding he wants for the wall contend that border security is worth the political deadlock. They blame Democratic leaders for not providing funding for the wall, placing the government employees and their families in positions of financial hardship.