Federal Employees Head Back to Work After Lawmakers Reach Deal

NJ Spotlight News | October 17, 2013 | Politics
Thousands of New Jersey federal employees returned to work after being furloughed for 16 days during the partial government shutdown, to the relief of workers and business owners who serve them.

By Senior Correspondent Desirée Taylor
NJ Today

They’re back. EPA workers in Edison were among the 31,000 federal employees in New Jersey who returned to work today after being furloughed for 16 days during the partial government shutdown.

“Oh it’s wonderful to be told we can go back to work, get back to our projects and to see everyone back at the office is great,” said Kathleen.

Great, but there is a backlog of work they have to tend to.

“There definitely is. There were meetings scheduled while we were gone, other milestones, position openings, deadlines, things like that. So all that has to be re-shuffled around rescheduled,” she said.

The impact of the partial government shutdown was far reaching. Standard & Poor’s estimates it cost the U.S. economy $24 billion in lost economic activity. Businesses near the EPA lab in Edison say they took a financial hit.

“It’s was quiet here, so its affected us and other businesses around here,” said deli owner Jumma Lee.

The deal to reopen the federal government and raise the debt ceiling came late last night. The only member of New Jersey’s congressional delegation to vote no was Republican Congressman Scott Garrett. His colleague in the House, Congressman Leonard Lance, told me by phone he supported it because the U.S. must pay its bills on time.

“I don’t think there were any winners regarding those who served in Washington. And we have to move forward in a bipartisan capacity to make sure that our budgets are lower in deficits. And I think that can be done working together,” Lance said.

Still, the damage has been done says Allison Schon whose plan to buy a home has been put on hold.

“I am trying to buy a home with an FHA loan and can’t get it approved until the government opens,” Schon said.

Schon is hoping to get her dream home now that federal workers are back on the job. But she and other Americans are frustrated it took federal lawmakers so long to come to a resolution.

While many are breathing a sigh of relieved, they’re also feeling some anxiety that another crisis may be just a few months away because the budget deal will fund the federal government through Jan. 15.