Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Furloughed Chicago Couple Feel Like "Political Pawns"

30-year EPA veterans forced to stay at home

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Brad Bradley and his wife, Sheri Bianchin, have worked for the EPA for 30 years working as environmental engineers. But on Wednesday they sat at home, both furloughed under the partial government shutdown. Kim Vatis has their story.

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Brad Bradley and his wife, Sheri Bianchin, have worked for the EPA for 30 years working as environmental engineers.

But on Wednesday they sat at home, both furloughed under the partial government shutdown.

"It doesn't make sense. It's like we're political pawns," Bianchin said. "It's like government employees have no value and I want to understand what they're trying to achieve by sending us home."

With both their paychecks at stake, it's set off financial alarm bells. The couple has two kids in college -- one with specials needs -- along with the mortgage and bills. The uncertainty is frightening.

"When you have both working at the same place and both get laid off, that's devastating," Bradley said. "It would be so much easier of one of us had a different job and could pony up."

It's not the first time the couple has been affected. They both lost a week of pay during the last time the federal government shut down 17 years ago.

"We haven't had raises for three of four years, and so a lot of these things are adding up almost to the breaking point," Bianchin said. "We had to take loans to get where we are."

They've both been watching the news in Washington, D.C. -- or lack of it, they say -- and would like to let lawmakers know how their political stalemate is affecting families.

"We can't understand why we would be held hostage in what is really a conflict over a health care bill," Bradley says. "It doesn't make sense. The only way you can explain it is politics, and that's not a good enough explanation."

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