'Stop playing chicken with our lives': Workers warn Trump over shutdown
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US federal employees have told Donald Trump to “stop playing chicken with our lives” as they plead for an end to the government shutdown.
The government has been in partial shutdown for 19 days as the president continues to seek funding for his southern border wall.
Some 800,000 employees face another week without pay as departments without ring-fenced funding are forced to close, prompting Democrat house speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer to invite some of those affected to speak out at a press conference on Wednesday.
The pair said they were ready to pass legislation to reopen the departments, adding: “We all want border security.”
Eric effects.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">young, who represents prison workers, was among those who addressed the media.
He said they were the “lowest pay federal law enforcement officers in government” and had to “live pay check to pay check” earning between “$500 to $700 a month”.
He added that many of the employees were single mothers who had responsibility for child care and still needed to pay bills and for petrol while not getting any income.
He said their work sees them supervise the most heinous of criminals in the country.
He added: “What does it serves America’s public to shutdown the government in the name of border security, and neglect our internal security and the fabric of our prisons?
“We are the people of this shutdown. End this shutdown. If something happens to any of our professionals behind this distraction, blood will be on your hands.
“Stop playing chicken with our lives.”
One representative of employees in the US Department of Housing and Urban Development said her workers were losing their childcare places because they could not pay, and were at risk of missing mortgage payments.
She warned that building inspections were not being carried out – and that if there were problems with any housing developments, there was no one at the department to call.
The National President of American Federation of Government Employees, J David Cox, said they wanted the lockout to end “this very minute”.
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He said: “We don’t just oppose this because we aren’t getting paid but that would be reason enough.
“We don’t just oppose this because we are being kept from doing our jobs for American citizens, but that would be reason enough.
“We don’t just oppose this because it makes a mockery of our democracy and government but that would be reason enough. We oppose it for all those reasons plus another important one.
“We oppose being held hostage, we oppose being collateral damage, we oppose the use of extortion instead of reasoned debate.
“We oppose politicians who think so little of us, our work and the institutions of government that they think nothing of bringing whole departments to their knees. It’s time for this lock out to end.”
Mr Schumer said the government shutdown was a result of a “temper tantrum” from the president.
The conference came a day after Mr Trump addressed the nation on TV from the Oval Office for the first time, insisting that Congress needed to approve the $5.7bn (£4.5bn) wall on security and humanitarian grounds.
He called on newly empowered Democrats to meet him, saying it was “immoral” for “politicians to do nothing”.
The president claimed that he was conceding to the Democrats in making the wall steel rather than concrete, as he painted illegal immigrants as criminals and drug dealers who put a strain on public resources and fuelled the deaths of Americans by drugs.
“More Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War,” he said.