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Washington Tug Of War Continues: Furlough Would Cost Md. $51M

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Pat Warren joined the Eyewitness News team in 1992. Pat came to WJZ...
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ROSEDALE, Md. (WJZ) — The budget battle continues to heat up in Washington. The Senate passed a bill that would continue to fund the government. But the House is expected to put up a lot of opposition.

Meantime, thousands of federal workers worry they could be furloughed if a deal isn’t reached in time.

Pat Warren sat down with an employee who knows the struggle of furloughs.

There are 300,000 Maryland workers who are worried about what might happen if the government furloughs them. And that includes the Merritt family.

Tyler, Tabitha and Jasmine know more than you might expect about government budgets.

“I think the government is here to help and not here to hurt,” Tyler said.

Their dad, Rob Merritt, has been furloughed once before.

“This summer, when they had the furlough starting in July, I was furloughed,” he said. “And that was difficult for me because in April I had emergency open heart surgery and I had lots of medical bills and time off from that. And then the furlough hit, and basically, I was living off credit cards to be able to make ends meet. I’m living on the edge here.”

Governor O’Malley views the congressional stalemate from both the economic and quality of life impact on the state.

“In this case, it’s all the hard working families that work for our federal government and people that depend on the federal government for important aspects of their own, either business endeavors or daily needs in life. So it’s a really cruddy thing to do,” the governor said. “I don’t think there are many people that think it’s a good idea.”

Rob just wants to keep feeding his kids.

“Another furlough and… probably bankruptcy. At least missed bills,” he said.

The Washington tug of war continues.

State budget officials project a two-week long furlough would cost the state $51 million.

A shutdown affects recreation, as well as the workplace. Events at Fort McHenry would shut down, although security would remain in place.

Services considered critical to health and safety would go on as usual.

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