Sometimes help comes right when you need it. The wife of a furloughed federal worker won a lottery game in Virginia, enabling the family to take home a $100,000 check and a brand new SUV. An ongoing partial government shutdown has left hundreds of thousands of federal employees either furloughed or working without pay since Dec. 22.
"I cried," the Virginia Lottery reported Carrie Walls said about the moment she learned her ticket had been drawn from out of more than 554,000 entries in the state's Ford Expedition Plus $100K Promotion. "I couldn't believe it."
But Walls' win comes at perhaps the perfect time. The Ashburn, Virginia resident told the Virginia Lottery that her husband was a federal employee who had been furloughed as part of the government shutdown, making the cash portion of the prize extra special and especially timely. And so on Friday, while her husband was unable to pick up yet another paycheck because of the shutdown, Walls picked up a $100,000 check from the Virginia Lottery.
A photo posted to the Virginia Lottery's official Twitter account shows a smiling Walls holding her $100,000 check and sitting behind the wheel of her new SUV. She's planning on taking her family on a trip to Disneyworld, the Virginia Lottery reported.
The partial government shutdown entered its 22nd day on Saturday, making it the longest shutdown in American history, with the president and Congressional leaders no closer to a spending deal that would see furloughed employees put back to work. Although only a partial shutdown, the funding gap has left hundreds of thousands of federal workers without paychecks and caused operations at nine federal departments and dozens of agencies to grind to a halt, according to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
While Democrats in the House have passed a number of piecemeal spending bills aimed at funding government agencies one by one in an effort to fully reopen the government, those bills have been blocked from even being voted on in the Senate by Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. According to Reuters, McConnell has vowed to block votes on legislation that would effectively end the shutdown without providing the border-wall funding President Donald Trump has demanded.
"The last thing we need to do right now is trade pointless — absolutely pointless — show votes back and forth across the aisle," CNN reported McConnell said Thursday in a speech on the Senate floor. McConnell reportedly went on to characterize votes on legislation the president has already said he would not approve as "political stunts."
The president has refused to sign spending legislation that does not grant him the more than $5 billion dollars he'd requested for his border wall. On Saturday, he defended his stance on the shutdown by saying "elections have consequences."
"I do have a plan on the Shutdown," the president tweeted Saturday. "But to understand that plan you would have to understand the fact that I won the election, and I promised safety and security for the American people. Part of that promise was a Wall at the Southern Border. Elections have consequences!"
While the shutdown has left hundreds of thousands of federal workers struggling to make ends meet without paychecks, at least one family has found reason to celebrate thanks to a little luck and the Virginia Lottery.