He says government workers are being held hostage by the dispute over border security.,
Washington DC (KM) Maryland Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin, and other Democrats, are calling on their Republican colleagues to vote for two bills passed by the House of Representatives to reopen the federal government agencies which have been shut down since December due to a dispute over border security. “There’s no debate about the need to have secure borders. There’s a debate about the smartest and most cost effective way of doing it,” says Van Hollen. “But we shouldn’t be holding the whole country and 800,000 federal employees hostage. We should open those departments of government and then work on these issues.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday blocked efforts by Democrats to put the two bills up for a vote, claiming it was “pointless” because President Trump won’t sign them.
The shutdown began when President Trump said he would not sign any appropriations bill which does not contain $5-billion for a wall along the border with Mexico.. Democrats in Congress have said they will support enhanced border security, but not a wall.
Senator Van Hollen says a wall would not be very effective in securing the nation’s borders. “We don’t want to waste what will end up being about $30-billion dollars in American taxpayer money on something that the experts tell us will not work, building a 2,000-mile long wall,” he says.
The partial federal government shutdown has reached its 21st day.
Van Hollen held a roundtable discussion with furloughed federal workers on Monday, and has spoken with many of them throughout the week. He says their situation has become dire now that they’re not receiving a paycheck. “We heard very powerful and emotional stories about how they are one paycheck away from missing a mortgage payment or missing a rent payment,” he says.
Some have resorted to desperate measures. “We just heard from a Maryland mom who is having a crowd source on the internet through Go-Fund-Me the monthly tuition payment to help keep her son in college,” Van Hollen says
Payday for federal employees is Friday, January 11th, but those who have been furloughed or working without pay will not be receiving their salaries due to the shutdown.
And it’s not just federal employees who are being affected by the shutdown. “You have lots of small businesses–lots of them–that contract with the federal government. They’re going to go belly up and employees who work for them are already locked out of work,” he says.
Senators Van Hollen and Cardin will be at the Savage Branch Library, 9525 Durness Lane in Laurel to discuss the impact of the partial federal government shutdown with other elected officials, government employees and representatives from federal government unions. It begins at 9:00 AM.
By Kevin McManus