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Government Shutdown Impact Felt Among Nearly 150,000 Federal Workers In Maryland

Author: Kimberly Eiten

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Thousands of federal employees in Maryland will head back to work Tuesday morning after federal agencies and sites throughout the state were closed during the government shutdown.

The House followed the Senate in passing legislation to reopen the government after a weekend-long shutdown. The bill awaits President Donald Trump’s signature.

Fort McHenry, Social Security headquarters, Medicaid offices and even Baltimore’s division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives operated in limbo for nearly three days. But come Tuesday, it’s back to business as usual. However, even that has a time stamp.

“People feel like they’re on a yo-yo,” says Witold Skwierczynski, who was one of a limited number of Social Security Administration employees who reported to a nearly empty office Monday. “Congress needs to act to make sure that Social Security is fully funded and that the employees can do their jobs.”

Jobs that will resume as the stand-off on Capitol Hill ends. Agencies throughout Maryland that were reduced to restricted services will reopen with full staffing.

The U.S. Labor Department reports nearly 150,000 Marylanders rely on a federal paycheck. Add in contractors and that number climbs to 300,000 — or 10 percent of the state’s work force.

“Getting behind on your bills can jeopardize your security clearance, and through no fault of their own because of this stupid shutdown, could have their jobs and their eligibility for their jobs jeopardized,” says Jacque Simon of the American Federation of Government Employees.

Simon said many don’t know if they will be paid for the hours they clock if the government shuts down again.

“People are very frustrated. Federal employees are pawns in this game,” she said.

In just three weeks, lawmakers will face another deadline to vote on a budget. With the passage of the bill, the government will be funded until Feb. 8.

Maryland is one of the most government-dependent states with the federal government spending more than $30 billion in procurement here.

Maryland Rep. John Delaney voted to reopen the government. He announced over the weekend that he would donate his pay during the shutdown to the Mercy Health Clinic in Gaithersburg, Maryland, a nonprofit community health clinic that serves uninsured low-income residents.

During the government shutdown of 2013, Delaney donated his salary to the same organization.

He released the following statement Monday night:

“We need a responsible long-term budget deal that addresses the needs of the country. We’re not all the way there yet, but we’re closer than we were on Friday. Unlike what was considered last week, this is a bipartisan bill that came out of negotiations between both sides. Voting yes is the right answer on this bill. Voting yes gets the government back open, locks in CHIP funding for six years and gets the negotiations going again on a bipartisan deal to save DACA and protect the Dreamers.

“Congressional Republicans have – at least temporarily – moved from a hyper-partisan approach to actually negotiating with Democrats and I think that’s a good thing, so let’s take this up in good faith, and if they back out in three weeks, we hold them accountable.

“I believe that it’s important to be honest: short-term continuing resolutions are a really bad way to govern, but shutdowns are even worse. That’s especially true for Maryland and my constituents. There’s a lot of work to be done, on the budget and on immigration, so let’s get down to it.”

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