I am a member of the American Federation of Government Employees and a hardworking federal employee at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in New York City. I work on a daily basis as a compliance specialist protecting the public from violations of environmental law.

I received a notice in April that I would be furloughed — i.e., sent home without pay for seven days this year, a personal financial loss of more than $2,100 I cannot afford, due to the sequester.

I am concerned about the impact on my family, our troops and small businesses in my community. The president and Republicans agreed to the sequester in order to force them to work out a debt deal in 2012.

Congress remains gridlocked and the sequester is in effect. These sequester cuts are indiscriminate and will end up hurting the public. How does the government expect us to keep our water supplies and air clean if we are not present to deal with violations and emergencies? How can we serve our troops properly when the U.S. Department of Defense furloughs its employees? What about housing assistance?

There is no help in sight because the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is furloughing its employees. While political chess reduces my pay, my expenses remain the same or worse. My job is now at risk. I still have to pay the mortgage and bills and put food on the table. If I am unable to pay my bills due to this new financial hardship, I could lose my security clearance and get fired.

How does this keep our nation safe and secure? Have lawmakers thought about how these furloughs will affect the local economy?

Congress needs to do its job instead of stopping us from doing ours.

Paul Sacker

Little Neck

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