Local democratic lawmakers meet with furloughed employees amid government shutdown

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Local democratic lawmakers met up with government workers who are struggling to get by without pay while the government shutdown enters its third week.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Rep. Ted Deutch met with a few of the 800,000 furloughed workers, hoping to put a face to those affected.

Peggy Johannsen, who works for the Housing Authority of Fort Lauderdale said she is struggling to get by. She is not working. However, about half of the workers are still required to work despite receiving no pay.

“I’m supposed to get paid this weekend. I already know I won’t, even if they were to fix this thing today. It takes a week to process the payroll. In the meantime, bills keep coming in, including unexpected bills,” said Johannsen. “Last month, I had to make an unscheduled trip to Kansas City to attend the funeral of a niece who died unexpectedly. Shortly afterwards, my father died.”

Johannsen is one of the nearly one million furloughed federal workers ready to head back to work.

“I want to work. I know my colleagues want to work,” she said. “We want to help our customers.”

At the center of the government shutdown is the nearly $6 billion President Trump wants for his southern border wall.

“We have an absolute crisis of criminals and gang members coming through,” Trump told reporters. “It is national security. It’s a national emergency.”

However, Democrats believe that’s an exaggeration.

“We’ve not had terrorists streaming across our border,” Schultz said. “On the contrary, there have been essentially none.”

Trump’s opponents have said they are willing to discuss border security after the government reopens and paychecks for people like Johannsen resume.

“I’m sure that the people that are on the receiving end will make adjustments,” Trump said. “They always do.”

“Well, I’ve got news for him,” Johannsen argued. “No one likes the idea of not getting paid, whether you support the wall or not.”

Johannsen said there is enough money to get through the rest of the month, but February is a different story.

Trump is set to address to the nation at 9 p.m. 7News will have a live broadcast here.

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