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Furloughed couple from Northern Virginia worries for family's future

Steve and Silvina are long-time federal employees in high-level positions. Now, they're both furloughed, stuck like pawns in the largest government shutdown in history.

GREAT FALLS, Va. — It's tough for furloughed workers not getting a paycheck. For families, the pain can be compounded when both parents are furloughed.   

"Being rich was not our goal. We chose to work for the government at the jobs that we did to make a change to give back," said Silvina, 52.  

She and her husband Steve, 54, have been married for 24 years and have two teenagers and are long-time federal employees in high-level positions.

Steve has served 35 years and Silvina, 29 years. They don't want to name their agencies, but they're both environmental engineers looking out for the public's health and safety.

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"I work in environmental health. Protecting environmental health for people's lives. Hazards from the environment," explained Steve.  

"I clean up hazardous wastes sites...My goal was to make this world better, make the environment and the community I live in much better," said Silvina. 

Now, they're both furloughed, stuck like pawns in the largest government shutdown in history.

"For us, the two of us, not having any income is really challenging," said Silvina.  She teaches yoga on the side at McLean Sport and Health and has been able to pick up more classes to bring in some money for groceries.  

To cover their $5,000 mortgage payment, ("our priority") they're draining their savings account. As the furlough drags on, it's more and more difficult to manage declining funds. Silvina gets choked up talking about it. 

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"We're okay. You know, but I know a lot of people that aren't. I worry about them. But I do worry about us. At some point in time, out cushion is not going to last. It's a finite number."

They're also concerned important work is not getting done. 

"A lot of times people think we're a bunch of bureaucrats, it can be perceived that way, I understand that. Our jobs are more than that.  We are more than that...Everyday that we're not at our jobs, doing that work, it's everyday that people continue to be negatively impacted. I think that the American people deserve the work that federal employees do. And we want to do that job." 

They try hard to keep a positive outlook. But they may have to cut out their kids' extra curricular activists.

"The kids are getting a little anxious...It's challenging as a parent, to be able to say to your kid, 'we're going to be okay.' And we are going to be okay. Physically we're going to be okay. From the financial perspective, we're going to have to make some choices."

If the shutdown goes on for a couple more weeks, Silvina says it's "panic time."

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