NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As of midnight Friday, the partial federal government shutdown was tied for the longest in United States history.
On Thursday, federal workers from New York to California rallied in hopes of ending the stalemate. As they were doing so, President Donald Trump was promoting his border wall along the Texas-Mexico border.
As the shutdown enters its third week, men and women fully feeling the pinch of not getting paid rallied against the governmental gridlock outside the Federal Building in lower Manhattan.
“This political fight is not something we should be pulled into,” Environmental Protection Agency employee Anthony Tseng said.
Tseng is a furloughed environmental engineer, and a single father of two who finds himself in a tight financial spot.
“I’ve reduced the thermostat two degrees, a lot more bologna sandwiches floating around the house,” he said. “(We) can’t enjoy anything that we have because we’re trying to hold on to as much cash as possible.”
“We have bills to pay, this is New York City,” said EPA employee Stephanie Sessoms-Midgett, whose rent was due Thursday. “The landlord doesn’t want to hear anything, he wants his money.”
Theirs are just some of the personal stories of the some 800,000 federal workers affected by the shutdown, which on Saturday will become the longest in United States history. With no sign of compromise on Capitol Hill, Trump moved closer to declaring a national emergency to fund the $5.7 billion border wall as he met with southern border patrol officers in Texas.
“I have the absolute right to declare a national emergency,” Trump said. “I haven’t done it yet, I may do it. If this doesn’t work probably I will do it. I would say most definitely.”
A declaration of that nature would allow him to circumvent Congress and use military money to pay for the wall, but top Democrats are demanding Republicans separate the shutdown from the border security standoff.
“Open the government,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said. “It’s in your hands.”
The Senate has voted to give back pay for workers when the shutdown ends, but just when that will happen is the worry for many.
Democrats have argued that during his campaign, the president repeatedly promised Mexico would pay for the border wall. On Thursday, the president explained he never meant Mexico would pay directly for the barrier. Rather, they’d pay through a new trade deal his administration negotiated with Mexico and Canada.