Jan 11, 2019, 3:22 PM ET

Family of federal worker struggling because of the government shutdown begs Trump to meet with them


A stay-at-home mom whose family is struggling to make ends meet as the government shutdown stretches into one of the longest in U.S. history has a message for President Donald Trump: Come to Walton, Kentucky, and let's talk.

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Allie McKinney, 28, is mom to 1-year-old Harper, born at just 26 weeks weighing one pound and unable to breathe without a ventilator. McKinney, a former social worker, quit her job to tend to Harper and burned through their savings during Harper's 302-day stay at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

Then came the government shutdown. Harper’s dad, Chris Rachford, is still working nights doing data entry at the IRS facility nearby. But because of the shutdown that began Dec. 22, his paycheck on Monday will likely be zero.

PHOTO: Harper McKinney is seen in this undated family photo.Allie McKinney
Harper McKinney is seen in this undated family photo.

While the family relies on Medicaid to pay for much of Harper’s care, like therapy and medical equipment, it's dad’s income that puts food on the table and covers gas and insurance, McKinney said, and she wouldn’t be able to return to work without special nursing care for Harper.

Now, McKinney wants to sit down one-on-one with Trump to tell him it's unrealistic to tell families like hers to “make adjustments."

“We had a nest egg. We used that nest egg,” McKinney told ABC News on Friday. “Now, you – the government – is creating another traumatic event for us … There are a lot of people who can’t just make it work.”

Some 800,000 federal workers are impacted by the partial shutdown with about half of those workers still required to work without pay.

By Saturday, the funding lapse will become the longest on record at 22 days, as Congress and Trump remain at an impasse over Trump's insistence that the U.S. build a border wall.

One major union, the American Federation of Government Employees, estimated that about a third of the 800,000 impacted workers will miss their first paycheck on Friday. Another third will experience a missed paycheck on Monday because of the shutdown, and the remaining third will turn up empty on Tuesday.

PHOTO: Harper McKinney is seen with her parents in this undated family photo.Allie McKinney
Harper McKinney is seen with her parents in this undated family photo.

Tony Reardon, head of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents many IRS and U.S. Customs and Border Protection workers, called Friday an "ominous day" because it's the day the shutdown finally hits home for many Americans.

"Federal employees started this shutdown nervous and anxious about their future," he said. "Today, many of them will be downright terrified about whether they can make their car payment, their mortgage, their daycare bill or their children's tuition bills."

Hundreds of federal workers across the country on Thursday organized demonstrations against the shutdown. Rallies were held in Washington, D.C., Detroit, Dallas, and Ogden, Utah.

In past shutdowns, federal workers typically received back pay after the government resumed operating, but an unknown number of contractors are unlikely to receive compensation.

One union that represents security guards and custodians, SEIU 32BJ, said it estimates some 600 of its members who work in the nation's capital as contractors will go without their first paychecks today -- paychecks that most of those employees can't afford to miss.

So far, the Trump administration has tried to blunt the impact on the general public by promising to maintain food assistance through February and bringing back IRS personnel to process tax refunds.

PHOTO: A Closed sign is seen during a news conference after a House Democratic Caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 9, 2019, in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong/Getty Images
A "Closed" sign is seen during a news conference after a House Democratic Caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 9, 2019, in Washington, D.C.

But the longer the shutdown lasts, the more federal agencies will be operating in unknown territory.

Rachford told ABC affiliate WCPO in Cincinnati that he voted for Trump in 2016 but said the shutdown and other recent events have made him regret that decision.

“We’re all scrounging,” he said of his fellow IRS workers. “Everybody’s talking about how they’re going to pay their next rent, how they’re going to pay their next mortgage bill.”

Meanwhile, McKinney said she is hoping Trump will hear her story and be willing to rethink his demands for the border wall if it means keeping the government shutdown any longer.

“He’s a father, you would think he would have some soft spot, somewhere deep down,” she said. “He lacks so much empathy, it seems. I know it won’t change anything, but, I want him to see how it’s hurting us.”

ABC News producer Stephanie Ebbs contributed to this report.

News - Family of federal worker struggling because of the government shutdown begs Trump to meet with them

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  • John Ash

    No one who works for the federal government deserves sympathy. The child does, but they should be working in the private industry producing something, rather than screwing over others. Do you think the IRS cares about people that can't afford taxes?

  • Thomas

    Unlike the government, government employees can't operate under deficit spending.

  • haggus

    5 billion. Democrats blow through 5 billion like it is toilet paper. Remember the shutdown is because the Dems filibustered the senate over 5 billion.

  • wavaava

    I honestly feel bad for the people that voted for him that are now in this mess. I know how i felt when Bill Clinton lied but then he screwed himself over for a piece of ass. But it upsets me that i had convinced my 85 yr old father who was Voting for the first time to vote for him. But this So called President has shown his colors loud and clear he needs to be stopped Now. He honestly does not care bout the American People I wish more of you supporting him can see that. now.

  • SarcasTex

    Trump has no inkling as to what these people are going through, he was born into a family that never had to worry about money or a source of income. He's oblivious to what it means to live from paycheck to paycheck or to have to wonder where your next meal is coming from, paying rent and utilities, these things are completely foreign to him.

  • kbking

    This government shutdown would end a lot earlier if they stopped the paychecks to the Senators and Congressmen, their staff and the big shots in the White House.

  • Abby1

    Trump does not care about their plight. He would just say its the Democrats fault about the government shutdown. Then he would thank the couple for supporting the Mexican border wall.

  • notagain

    Trump won't meet with anyone unless they're willing to say that they are 100% behind him and willing to die for the wall. smh

  • AngeredVoter

    The Democrats in the House passed legislation to open the Department of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, State, Interior, Agriculture, Treasury, Commerce and Justice leaving Homeland Security as the only agency unfunded but so-called President Trump and the Republicans are determined to punish as many people as possible.

  • Laney D.

    Trump doesn't care and has no empathy at all. He's incapable of it.

  • 2late2care?

    He. Doesn't. Care. Sociopaths aren't capable. Unless one of his advisors convinces him it would benefit him in a bigly way, forget it. People affected need to keep speaking up loudly!

  • Familia

    'I don't have money but what I do have are a very particular set of skills......
    Liam Neeson on behalf of the American people Trump has taken hostage.

  • Ted Mittelstaedt

    I am sorry to say that if they met with Trump it would be as useful as meeting with a 2 year old and asking the 2 year old to have some empathy for their plight.

    Trump is not capable of empathy. And the reality of it is that they need to be looking around for another job, they can't be depending on the government. I hope that the husband finds one quickly and quits the IRS job.

  • SJC

    McConnell refuses to bring the spending bills to a vote, HE and Trump are causing all the problems due to a Trump obsession tantrum about a wall.

  • Prophet With Honor

    Trump will never be allowed to see/hear any of this, he will be cocooned safely away from the reality of common people.

  • ReviewTheFacts

    Trump generally only sees people who can be of value to him politically. He doesn't want to meet with people he's shortchanged, screwed, or who otherwise are hurt by his policies.


    Everyone needs to hammer their representatives to override Trump on this one, to pass legislation, let Trump veto it, AND THEN OVERRIDE HIS VETO!

  • ArghONaut

    Kentucky is a hard red state. These poor people seemingly don't understand they are winning and everything is Great Again! While sorry for their plight it is amazing they might think Trump gives a s**t about them or the so many like them..

  • Starderup

    The so-called president is above all this. He floats like the baby tRump in diapers blimp, and the commoners scurry about with their dirty lives, but he doesn't have to touch them. He may launch rolls of paper towels at them, but don't expect more.

  • Helen Smith

    90% of America is living paycheck to paycheck, perhaps until the government opens back up, the political officials bank accounts should be frozen, their assets frozen and their paychecks frozen. THEN THEY'D RESOLVE THE PROBLEM. What a bunch of sick people to put poor people into this position. Paychecks shouldn't be frozen EVER. Just the rest of the government should shut down.

  • helios

    Why them? There are hundreds of thousands of people going through the same thing! What makes these people think they're so special?

  • cupid92

    I know I'm going to get blowback for this but before you had a kid didn't you think maybe you should have a substantial savings account? Like 3 mos or more for emergencies?

  • Sundown

    I hope all the families are saved.
    Here's a great idea. Have the Trumpers pay for a wall only they want.

  • SFprogressive

    There's another wrinkle to this wall madness, It will cost WAY more than 5,7 billion, Estimates range from 15 to 70 billion, Wait til they have to build a large section in the middle of the river. But one strategy would be to give Don his money, the lawsuits against the wall will take years to resolve, then defeat him in 2020 and put the money into something useful.

  • foldincaulfield

    I don't know what they're complaining about. Didn't Trump say 100% of the workers support his shutdown?

  • SFprogressive

    The Fuehrer will tell you "I relate" and "you'll make do as you always do", Helps, right?

  • THEFred

    Trump is too much of a coward to meet with his victims individually. And if he was somehow forced into it, he would lie to their faces, tell them he's going to "look into" doing something to help them, and then go right back to his harmful pigheaded agenda.

    He's done it before. For example, we watched him promise the Parkland survivors that he was going to stand up to the NRA, and then do the opposite two days later. We've seen him lie to people constantly.