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AFSCME President Saunders Demands End to Government Shutdown

Photo Credit: Tasos Katopodis / Stringer / Getty
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By Pete Levine Explore the Issues

With the shutdown now into its second week, AFSCME President Lee Saunders is calling on President Donald Trump to accept a House and Senate Democratic proposal to reopen the federal government this week.

“It is time to end the shutdown that is denying millions of Americans critical public services and unnecessarily hurting nearly 800,000 dedicated public service workers, their families and communities,” Saunders said, noting that the proposal by House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is a commonsense measure that has attracted bipartisan support in Congress.

Of the nearly 800,000 federal workers affected by the shutdown, half are deemed “essential” and are required to show up to work without knowing when or if they will get paid for it. The other half across nine federal departments and agencies will be furloughed – forced to remain home, unable to perform the vital work that keeps the nation running.

After previous shutdowns, Congress passed legislation providing back pay for affected workers. However, without a paycheck in hand soon, many federal workers are facing the frightening prospect of not being able to pay their mortgages, rents, car loans and meet countless other day-to-day obligations.

The impact of the shutdown isn’t just being felt by federal workers. National parks are no longer being supervised, and their facilities are no longer being maintained. The Smithsonian institutions are also closed. Meanwhile, the cost of the government shutdown will likely run in the billions.

Trump has said that he would not sign a funding bill unless it contained funding for a border wall, which Saunders said “shows a blatant lack of respect for the service of the people who keep our communities safe, healthy and strong.”