BALTIMORE (WJZ) — As of Friday, 800,000 federal workers in Maryland and around the country are no longer getting paid as the shutdown over a border wall with Mexico drags on.
Eighteen of those workers held a roundtable discussion in Howard County with Maryland’s senators.
“We are pawns in a dangerous game,” said Eric Bryant, a federal worker from Odenton. “I do feel like we’ve been abandoned.”
Freda McDonald suffers from a degenerative neuromuscular condition and worries about paying her insurance premiums.
“The stress is not good for me…I’m scared,” she told WJZ. “This time it seems nobody wants to go to the table. No matter what your political view is, it looks to me like nobody’s really worried about it. The only people worried are the people who are financially impacted.“
Kerri Woodridge told Maryland Democratic Senators, Ben Cardin, and Chris Van Hollen, “It’s tough to tell your child, ‘Mommy can’t get you things because she doesn’t have a paycheck.’”
NASA’s Tryshanda Moton said she’s worried about closing on her home purchase.
“They don’t think about that,” she said.
Patricia Copeland of the Securities and Exchange Commission told the senators, “We just want to get back to work.”
They also heard from a federal law enforcement officer who worries about putting his life on the line while he can’t put food on the table.
Many workers—like TSA screeners—are forced to stay on the job without pay, and at least two unions are suing claiming that is illegal.
Senator Cardin noted his fellow senators approved back pay for the workers once the government re-opens, but there’s no guarantee the House will do the same.
He also said there’s confusion from the White House.
“You never know what President Trump will do next.”
In Howard County, where County Executive Calvin Ball estimates one in every ten members of the workforce is impacted by the shutdown, library fines are on hold along with water service suspensions.
The county is also expanding meals for students.
“We stand with the people of Howard County,” Ball said.
“The bills coming into their households, they’re not zero,” Senator Van Hollen said. “They’re getting their mortgage bills, their rent payments all the other bills that are due.”
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, endangering Americans’ health.