“The big thing is, it’s already a very tough job,” said Justin Tarovisky, a correctional officer at the United States Penitentiary Hazelton, in northern West Virginia. “But when you know that you’ve got to go to work and you’re not going to be paid for it — or it’s going to be late, no matter what — it really brings you down.”
The blue-shirted officers of the Transportation Security Administration, who were expected to screen 41 million passengers this holiday, stood beside body scanners and X-ray machines on Saturday after spending the previous days girding for a shutdown.
“It’s a job,” said Daniel Defosse, a T.S.A. worker, as he stacked plastic bins at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., just after the Senate adjourned on Friday. “It comes with the territory, honestly.”
Others were more exasperated, like the T.S.A. officer who sat at a guard desk nearby, staring at a computer screen and clicking a mouse.
“What would you think if you didn’t get paid?” said the officer, who would not give his name but said he felt frustrated and resigned over a shutdown he feared would last a while.
As for the political leaders whose bickering triggered the shutdown, he had one word: “Selfish.”
Some members of Congress, especially lawmakers from the Washington area, expressed sympathy for the workers, and the Senate on Friday unanimously approved a measure that would compensate federal workers “at the earliest date possible after the lapse in appropriations ends, regardless of scheduled pay dates.”
But Representative Mark Sanford, Republican of South Carolina whose tenure in Congress will end next month, said few lawmakers were focused on the repercussions of a shutdown on federal workers, particularly because of the government’s history of ultimately paying its employees.