In 1995 I was 10 years old... I knew we had a president, I knew my parents didn't like him and I knew that congress existed but that's about it. Needless to say that a shutdown is all new to me... not that I'm excited for it.
But when looking at the scope of federal employees and the age ranges it actually seems that more govies than not probably experienced the 1995 shutdown in some way shape or form.I know that just because you work for the government now doesn't mean that you did back in '95 but still I'm sure you have a better feel than I do.
I'd like to tip my hat to experience here and let you guys go to town. Tell us what happened in the '95 shutdown. Tell us what you think could be the same and different this go around.
Looking forward to your responses.
I did survive the 1995 shutdown, but it had a fairly harsh effect on me. I was a young woman, in my early twenties. I was idealistic, and excited to work for the progressive Clinton Administration. I reported to my job at the environment division of the United States Department of Justice, and shortly thereafter got furloughed.
I remember clearly that it had something to do with Kay Baily Hutchison not liking the Endangered Species Act. For years afterwards we were defending cases having to do with actions the Department of Interior had failed to take due to the budget shortfall.I felt that the decisions of public interest groups to sue Interior on so called deadline cases was cynical at best. Although I am an ardent environmentalist, I refuse to give money to the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund and Earthjustice to this day.
In addition, the shutdown coincided with a pretty nasty snowstorm, if I remember correctly, So there I was young, idealistic, not much money, had barely moved to DC. To add insult to injury, the Smithsonian, Jewel of DC, was closed also. I left DC after three years, much disillusioned.
I now teach public policy, including nonprofit management, and my experiences certainly affect what I convey.
I was a Ward Clerk Supervisor at the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis during the '95 shutdown. A lot of folks I knew in the daily clinics were sent home but anyone who worked on the wards with inpatients, or in critical environmental services areas had to show up every day and night for work. We knew that eventually we would get paid. We also knew that the veterans we saw every day in the beds, the ICUs and coming and going to and from surgeries needed us to be there. So no one slacked off. A lot of us were veterans ourselves and we could easily see ourselves in a bed one day. It is called civil 'service' for a reason.
And if our congressmen/women understood that, and had to work for no pay, they would re-think their tactics and focus better on the real objective.
Can I tell you a story about cranking away despite hardship?
This happened my first year in government, when I was 24 years old. I don't recommend my response, but...I was interviewing a business owner in Caifornia. He said, "I am in my office at 7 at night. That's because I have a start-up mentality...you wouldn't expect that from a government employee."
I said, "Well, I'm a government employee on the East Coast. It's 10 PM here."
I got a 3 week vacation at taxpayers expense and wasn't really happy about it :|
I feel the same way now.
December 1995. My agency was targeted for major cuts, and 89 coworkers, roughly half the staff, were laid off just before the shutdown. Staying at home, waiting for the phone to ring was not remotely a vacation, but more like a deathbed watch. The shutdown ended -- and the snow hit. We finally went back to work, and half the conversations in the halls were along the lines of "I never expected to see you still here."
This time around, I don't expect to be paid in the end, but I do know that my agency and my job will still be here when it's over. But, I'll survive whatever comes.