As the government shutdown continues, families are struggling to survive.
The ongoing tug-of-war between the White House and Congress has precipitated a humanitarian crisis, but not the one President Donald Trump envisioned.
Since December 22, 2018, more than 800,000 federal government workers have been on furlough without pay, and the among them is mother-of-3 Quashawn Latimer.
"Between chemo and the rent, chemo wins."
Like so many other furloughed government workers, Latimer is the primary breadwinner in her family, and her meager reserves have to stretch to feed her children, her husband, and pay for her cancer treatment until her next paycheck. Whenever that may be.
Latimer is undergoing chemotherapy for stage 2 breast cancer, and although her insurance covers most of her medical expenses. it does not pay for everything.
At the root of the shutdown is a conflict between the President and Congress over the funding of the border wall.
Latimer revealed that from February on, she and her family face eviction. She can't pay the rent, and pay for chemo. And as she calmly admitted to NBC's Mariana Atencio, between paying her rent and paying for chemo treatments, she opts for chemo every time.
Hundreds of thousands of American families are facing homelessness and hunger, just like Quashawn Latimer's, held hostage by a situation over which they have no control.
Many thousands of federal employees continue working without pay, in an effort to keep the government on track, and minimum services available to the public.
The government shutdown is the longest in U.S. history and is now in its 32nd day. At the root of the shutdown is a conflict between the President and Congress over the funding of the border wall.
President Trump wants $5,7 billion, and Congress refuses point-blank to write him that check. The shutdown seems likely to continue, with no end in sight, as negotiations fail again and again.
Like Quashawn Latimer, many federal workers are facing the specter of losing all they have. Will banks and landlords be tolerant and understanding of their situation? Quashawn Latimer knows one thing. You can't negotiate with cancer.
Quashawn Latimer is only one of many federal employees in straightened circumstances and battling cancer.
Kristy Demas is being treated for stage 2 ovarian cancer, and money is running out:
"I have zero, and I'm not ashamed to say that. I'm facing a huge burden. I don't know how I'm going to pay my electric bill, my water bill, my car insurance, my rent."
Demas works for the U.S. Census Bureau's National Processing Center in Jeffersonville is a statistical clerk. Like the Census Bureau's other 1,700 workers, Demas is not getting paid.
Her illness has consumed her savings, and she relied on her salary to make ends meet. Her fridge is empty, and she admitted that she has been living on bologna sandwiches and little else.
If the shutdown continues, Demas will not be able to continue her cancer treatment, even with her insurance.
With no prospects of another job in her precarious health condition, Kristy Demas is hostage to fate, and to the shutdown.
In a related story, the IRS is recalling 46,000 furloughed workers to return to work without pay.