This weekend is the first time many of them are receiving paychecks with no money.
Take, for instance, William Striffler, an air traffic controller at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.
He gave CNN permission to use this image of his pay stub. Striffler worked 64 hours. The amount listed under "net pay?" $ 12 o'clock.
"We've been working knowing that it was coming, and when it hit yesterday, it really hit," he told CNN's Poppy Harlow.
Striffler's wife is pregnant. She's got to have a baby next week.
"This should be one of the happiest moments of our lives," he said, "and we have this hanging over our heads. And it's really an unfortunate situation to Striffler said they will use their savings and get help from family to make ends meet until the shutdown is over.
When asked what he would like to tell Congress about his situation, Striffler said he wants to knock off playing politics.
"We don't want to be used as political pawns," he said. Get paid and not have to worry about the added stress. We have stressful enough jobs when it is. "
And he's not interested in assigning blame for the shutdown to President Donald Trump and the GOP, or the Democrats in Congress. [1
CNN's Ross Levitt contributed to this report.