By Mike Hellgren

LAUREL, Md. (WJZ) — Maryland leaders met Friday morning in Laurel to hear from federal employees who did not receive their paychecks due to the government shutdown.

“Mr. President this is nothing to be proud of,” U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said, referring to comments President Donald Trump made weeks ago saying he’d be proud to shutdown the government.

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Van Hollen said the FDA is no longer able to do food safety inspections putting Americans’ food supply at risk. He also added the EPA is no longer able to do its inspections of some of the biggest polluters in the country, also putting the health of Americans at risk.

On Friday, 800,000 federal employees didn’t get their paychecks nationwide.

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“The bills coming into their households, they’re not zero,” Van Hollen said. “There getting their mortgage bills, their rent payments all the other bills that are due.”

Maryland community colleges are reporting that parents who have to pay their child’s monthly tuition are asking for extensions.

“These are families that are one payment away from meeting their bills,” he added.

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Van Hollen said Trump said he could relate to these employees, but that’s not true, if he could relate, ‘he wouldn’t be making these federal employees go through the shutdown and denying these important services to the American people.

“This is tragic,” U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said. “This should have never started, this should have ended yesterday on the floor of the U.S. Senate.”

Cardin said he and Van Hollen made unanimous consent requests to reopen the government with bipartisan legislation that had already been acted upon by the Senate with near unanimous votes.

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Cardin said the legislation would reopen the parts of the government that have nothing to do with border security, while Congress negotiates that issue.

“The bottom line is one person has caused this shutdown, that’s President Trump, he’s trying to hold the American people hostage” Cardin said. “I’m often asked why don’t you negotiate? Well it’s hard to negotiate with someone who’s using hostage techniques and undermines his own negotiators everyday.”

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