Government Shutdown 2013: Shutdown enters fourth day, furloughed workers protest
WASHINGTON (WJLA) - As the shutdown drags on for a fourth day, federal workers are fed up. They say they’re already feeling the financial impact of being furloughed.
Several hundred workers gathered on Capitol Hill Friday morning. It was a rally organized by federal worker labor unions and democratic lawmakers.
With no end to the shutdown in sight, federal workers with the National Treasury Employees Union and other labor groups demanded a vote on a “clean” continuing resolution in the House, as well as back-pay.
NIH researcher Tyrone Wilson said, “I know a lot of people in a lot worse shape than I am [with] mortgages, kids in college, living from paycheck to paycheck.”
Department of Labor employee Lucia Cruz said, “That's my rent money. And then where's my grocery money? My student loans – I have to apply for deferments now. I have to look into taking money out of my retirement, my 401k so I can float on. It’s ridiculous.”
After a three-year pay freeze and now this, these workers say they feel like political pinatas. “We love serving the public. It's just really hurtful that we're always taking the blame,” said Cruz.
NOAA employee Angel Robinson said, “It's not like we're just sitting around being lazy. We don't have a choice. We want to be back at work.”
With legislation pending in both chambers of Congress that would guarantee retroactive pay after the shutdown ends, these federal workers say they're optimistic they will get back-pay.
Still, they're concerned about the continuing resolution because it would only fund the federal government for six weeks.
Robinson said, “There's a lot of anxiety that goes along with the uncertainty over whether or not you'll get paid.”
Republicans have repeatedly said they're ready to negotiate with Democrats to start re-opening government programs and agencies – bit by bit.
On the House floor, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) said, “House Republicans remain committed to a bi-partisan solution to re-open the federal government for the American people.”
But President Obama and Democrats in Congress insist the entire government should re-open. Even so, they're only asking for funding at a lower, sequester level. That means no raises for federal workers, at least in the short-term.
Appearing at the federal worker rally, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) said, “That just shows how much Democrats have compromised. I did not support that level. But to keep the government open, or to open it back up so these workers can get back to work, we're willing to even do that.”