SILVER SPRING, Md. (PAI)—Hundreds of workers, most of them union members, and their allies jammed into a county building lobby in downtown Silver Spring cheered lawmakers who blasted GOP President Donald Trump’s lockout of hundreds of thousands of federal workers.
And they also listened, raptly, to several colleagues who described trying to live hand-to-mouth without paychecks.
At midnight Dec. 21, Trump shut the Interior, State, Treasury, Commerce, Housing and Agriculture Departments among others – plus the EPA and other key agencies -- which lack money. He won’t sign their money bills unless Congress kowtows to his $5.7 billion demand for money to build his Mexican Wall.
As a result, some 800,000 feds, plus three times as many dependents, face payless weeks or months. But Trump forced about half of them to work, anyway. They’re “essential,” but their pay isn’t.
Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland – the rally’s host – Sen. Chris Von Hollen, D-Md., and Democratic Reps. Abigail Spangenberger and Don Beyer of Virginia and John Sarbanes of Maryland made it clear the U.S. House’s new Democratic majority won’t pay for Trump’s wall.
“Stop making people work without pay,” Raskin declared. “Stop threatening food stamps for 38 million Americans!” USDA pays for food stamps; those funds will run out next month.
“We need a leader, not a demagogue,” Sarbanes said of Trump. “We need a president, not a grandstander.”
The Jan. 9 evening rally was a prelude to an even-bigger mass march of unions, their allies and lawmakers, scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 10 from the AFL-CIO to the White House. “We have to be at rallies and out on the streets,” Von Hollen said. “Yes, this is a Trump shutdown.”
Government Employees President J. David Cox went further. “This is a lockout – and it’s a lockout that belongs to Donald Trump.” Added Cox, a retired VA psychiatric nurse: “I know crazy when I see it.”
photo above right by Chris Garlock; below by Saul Schniderman