CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With no deal being reached to end the government shutdown and avoid default, federal employees hit the streets Tuesday to voice their displeasure and send a message.
“For Congress to come together and get us either a clean continuing resolution or a budget and put us back to work and pay us like we should be getting paid,” said Charlie Yates, president of the American Federation of Government Employees.
Yates along with a number of other employees lined up along MacCorkle Avenue in Kanawha City Tuesday night holding signs urging for an end to the shutdown.
“It’s not about the Republicans or the Democrats, no it’s about them coming together and doing what’s right for the American people, especially the federal employees because we’ve become the pawn in their game,” he said.
Yates, who works at the Federal Correctional Institution-McDowell, and other federal law enforcement officers are required to report for work, but they are not getting paid to do so. He said right now the finances are tight for his family and other families.
“It’s distressing not meeting your monthly obligations, being able to put food on your family’s table, and then we are still required to come to work so where does the gas money come from,” he said.
Yates adds that many of his fellow coworkers at the institution drive about an hour to get to work each day.
“It’s put a lot of stress on a lot of families,” he said.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill in both the House and Senate spent Tuesday working on separate proposals that would put an end to the nations current crisis that is heading into day 16. A vote was expected to come in the House Tuesday night on a House Republican plan, but that ended up falling through.
With the failure to reach a deal with the looming default deadline Thursday, Gary Zuckett was concerned about the possible consequences.
“Our credit rating will tank, interest rates will go up and everything will cost more,” said Zuckett, West Virginia Citizen Action Group Executive Director. “It could put us right back to 2008, who knows.”
Tuesday’s hour long rally took place right in front of Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito’s Charleston office. Zuckett said they are not happy with her performance in Washington.
“We sent her there to run the government and not shut it down or run it into the ditch,” he said. “We really think she is not doing her job and she really needs to get on with doing her job.”
That was the message written on several signs being waved at the rally. Many motorists passing by honked their horns in support of the movement.
Zuckett, Yates and others just want the conflict to be resolved before Thursday to avoid embarrassment.
“We don’t want our government to be a deadbeat government that can’t pay its bills,” he said.
With the failed proposal in the House, both sides in the Senate began work on their own bipartisan deal to end this crisis. Both leaders in the Senate were optimistic a deal could be reached before the deadline.