Federal workers rally to end shutdown; McConnell blocks bills to reopen gov’t

Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell. Photo: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Jan. 10 (UPI) — A number of federal employees who are working without pay or are furloughed due to the federal shutdown spoke out against the impasse Thursday, with demonstrations across the United States.

The FBI Agents Association urged the White House and Congress in a petition to fund the FBI and the Justice Department, saying that while agents continue to work without pay, they are operating with limited resources that is endangering national security.

While federal employees planned to show their disapproval of the shutdown publicly, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., blocked two bills Thursday that were passed by the House last week. The bills would have approved new funding and reopened the federal government without money for the border wall.

He called them “pointless” show votes that Trump would reject. One bill would have funded the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 8, and the other would have funding the other eight agencies through Sept. 30.

The shutdown, which started nearly three weeks ago, will hit effected employees hard Friday when they miss their first paycheck. President Donald Trump said he plans to keep the shutdown going indefinitely as long as Congress refuses to fund his border wall.

Trump walked out of a meeting with congressional leaders Wednesday, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats won’t budge on the wall. The shutdown entered its 20th day Thursday.

In response, the National Federation of Federal Workers is co-sponsoring a rally outside the White House Thursday. The AFL-CIO set a rally outside the White House for noon, and air traffic controllers will march at the Capitol.

“The president has a cavalier attitude because he has no idea what it’s like to rely on a regular paycheck,” federation spokesman Steve Lenkart said in a report by USA Today.

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The president, without proof, has previously said most federal workers are Democrats and that the party should feel pressure to get the government reopened. At the same time, he’s also said most federal workers support his wall and the shutdown.

“President Trump has been loud and clear — he doesn’t care that hundreds of thousands of public servants aren’t getting their paychecks because of his manufactured funding crisis,” Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-Pa., said in a statement. He attended a rally Tuesday in Philadelphia with laid-off workers.

“More than 11,000 in Pennsylvania are struggling to keep their families in their homes, keep the lights on, and put food on the table. I demand that President Trump put aside his erratic demands for an expensive, unpopular, ineffective border wall and let our fellow citizens go back to work.”

In Palm Beach County, Fla., members of the National Treasury Employers Union prepared their own rally Thursday. Union president Donna McGowan said some members might not be able to participate because the shutdown is forcing them to conserve gasoline.

Internal Revenue Service workers in Fresno, Calif., and Washington, D.C., are also planning rallies.

“[IRS employees] are in distress because payments are coming due their rent their house payment,” National Treasury Employees Union member Jason Sisk told KFSN-TV.

Association of Flight Attendants-CWA President Sara Nelson on Thursday also called for urgency in resolving the crisis.

“The entire airline industry is united in calling on the President and Congress to immediately end the shutdown,” she wrote in a tweet.


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