I live in Washington, DC, and yes, I’m a federal employee. I’m now on Day 3 of the government shutdown. So, yesterday, I hosted a “F*ck the Tea Party” Tea Party, serving up some Long Island Iced Tea (recipe to follow—this is a food blog after all) and Lynchburg Lemonade (Jack Daniels and lemonade, a southern favorite). I invited my fellow furloughed friends to join, and we tried to make light of a serious situation.
Everyone has been telling me to enjoy my time off, which is a nice sentiment. I’ll certainly make lemonade out of lemons and take advantage of these new found free hours during the day, but I don’t think people realize what this really means for the hundreds of thousands of federal employees who have been closed out of their jobs. This isn’t time off. This is unemployment. Let’s call a spade a spade.
We’ve all seen in the news that weddings have been cancelled because national parks are closed; veterans had to remove the barricades to the World War II Memorial, while police enforcement graciously turned a blind eye; and of course, the National Zoo’s panda cam is tragically down. I do not want to make light of these events (well, maybe the last one), but this only scratches the surface of what is happening.
Federal bureaucrats get a bad rap, but the truth is, most of my colleagues have dedicated their time to a career in federal government because they are truly passionate about their agency’s mission and serving the public good. Right now, we’re wondering when we’ll get to go back to work and stressing over when we’ll get paid again. Monthly bills don’t go away, mortgage/rent payments don’t disappear, and we still have to eat.
Not to mention, if we are not at work, our jobs are not getting done. Last week, my program at the Department of Education awarded nearly $90 million in funding to school districts across the country. We’ve now given them money, but they likely won’t be spending it, because we are not there to give them a green light or guidance. And, if they do decide to start spending it, there’s no federal oversight to ensure they’re operating within the laws. We’ve pretty much just put the parking break on innovative programs for our children’s education (does that seem like a bad idea to anyone else?). And, I’m just referring to one program and one agency. With the vast majority of federal funding being distributed at the end of the fiscal year (September 30), this is probably the case for programs across agencies (housing, health, transportation, energy…). It worries me just a bit, and seems quite irresponsible. Thanks Congress!
Jon Stewart put it nicely, when he explained that the Affordable Care Act is a law that was passed by the book and upheld by the Supreme Court as constitutional. This is not the time or the place for Congress to be debating this issue. Federal employees should not be pawns in this ridiculous political stand off. (Let’s not forget that Congress and the President are still getting paid right now).
I have to say, I thought I came up with a clever name for my event, but in reality, I’m not just angry at the Tea Party. Republicans and Democrats alike are holding my life in limbo. So, Congress, this is my plea! Get your act together and stop being so irresponsible. Do your job (I’d proudly do mine if you’d let me). Fund the government. I’m really hoping I don’t have to host another tea party next week.
Long Island Iced Tea
- 1 cup gin
- 1 cup vodka
- 1 cup tequila
- 1 cup triple sec
- 1 cup light rum
- 1 1/2 cups sour mix
- 2 cans Coke
Enjoy, but don’t drink too much