At a rally in downtown Philadelphia, furloughed government workers joined by four members of Congress expressed frustration at the prolonged partial government shutdown.
"I'm fighting for my job,” Sharyn Roberts told Yahoo News during Tuesday’s event. “We need to reopen government so federal employees can be paid. We have families and we have bills and they need to be paid. We have health insurance, car insurance, mortgages, rent and it's unfair. I'm a 39-year federal employee with federal service and this is like crazy to me. I've never been through anything like this before."
The shutdown, now at 19 days, is the second-longest in history. The longest was a 21-day shutdown spanning Dec. 16, 1995 to Jan. 6, 1996. Trump has refused to agree to any deal that doesn’t provide billions in funding for a border wall and congressional Republicans have declined to join with Democrats for a veto-overriding funding bill.
The rally was organized by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU). Its attendees included Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a Republican, and Democratic Reps. Dwight Evans, Brendan Boyle and Mary Gay Scanlon. State Sen. Vincent Hughes of Philadelphia, a Democrat, also attended.
"We're here to get the word out to the American public to stop the shutdown,” said Dave Fitzpatrick, an AFGE rep and National Park Service employee who was set to retire on Dec. 30 but is limbo due to the shutdown. “This is a nonpartisan rally. We just want to go back to work. We want to put the federal workers back to work. I just met a gentleman from Spain. He came here to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. He's got to go back home and won't be able to see those things."
"Enough is enough, and that's what we need people to understand,” said Evans, who represents part of Philadelphia. “We've got to stop playing with people's lives and get this solved."
"The national emergency is that the president has had a temper tantrum and he has shut down the government,” said Scanlon, when asked if she agreed with the White House’s framing of the border situation. “Both the Senate and the House have passed bipartisan bills that would reopen the government and the only reason it's not open is because this president is trying to fulfill a campaign pledge.”