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Sen. Patty Murray: Federal workers ‘being held hostage’ by shutdown

(Matt Pitman, KIRO Radio)

With the government still partially shut down, Washington Senator Patty Murray returned home Friday, taking part in a federal employee financial aid workshop at Sea-Tac Airport put on by the Port of Seattle Commission.

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The event included participation from firms like BECU and WSECU, who were there offering information to federal workers on loans, lines of credit, and financial counseling. United Way was also there to offer free counseling and services like rent assistance, utility payments, childcare, and more.

As of today, federal workers such as TSA agents and air traffic controllers went home without a paycheck.

“Imagine how you would feel if you were coming to work and not getting paid — especially if you’re a federal employee and you’re told that you’re non-essential — how does that make you feel about your job? It’s not the way you should be treating employees,” Port of Seattle Commission President Stephanie Bowman told KIRO Radio.

“I’m here to earn a paycheck, and pay my bills, but it goes beyond that for us,” said long-time TSA worker Roger Smith. “We’re here also for the safety of the public — for me personally, that doesn’t give me the option of coming to work or not, I’ve still got to be there for them.”

Washington Senator Patty Murray was also in attendance, commenting on the shutdown’s effect on federal employees nationwide.

“These people are being held hostage to an issue they should not be held hostage to,” said Murray. “President Trump has made a singular issue that he has manufactured into a crisis.”

Murray went on to note that Congress could in fact pass legislation to fund government agencies while the debate over the wall continues. Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shot down a bill that would have done just that.

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When pressed on whether Congressional Democrats should simply agree to the president’s demands to reopen the government, Murray cited the dangerous precedent such a move would set.

“There’s a higher discussion here too — if we allow a president at any time to hold the paychecks hostage of individuals over whatever policy they have, we will be in this kind of shutdown forever, every time we have a budget every single year, and we cannot allow that to win,” she said.

As of Friday, the partial government shutdown will have gone on for three weeks.

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