Ongoing shutdown takes financial toll on local government employees

FORT LAUDERDALE-HOLLYWOOD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - The ongoing partial government shutdown has led to extensive financial woes for federal workers, and South Florida is no exception.

South Florida government employee Peggy Johansen would have normally been paid at the end of this week. Instead, she is protesting the fact that her next payday has been delayed indefinitely.

“I’m going to miss my first paycheck this weekend,” she said. “I would normally get it on a Saturday.”

7News cameras captured Johansen outside of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s Southwest Miami-Dade office as she held a sign that read, “Sen. Rubio, #StopTheShutdown.”

Johansen said she is taking steps to be able to keep her head above water until the showdown ends.

“I’m going to call our mortgage company and see what kind of help they can give us as far as delaying payments,” said Johansen.

The effects are real, and she is not alone. About 800,000 workers have been caught in a tug of war between President Donald Trump and Democratic House leaders over the commander in chief’s proposed southern border wall.

The White House wants $5.7 billion to pay for the wall, despite a campaign promise to have Mexico foot the bill.

Trump, who visited the U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday, attempted to clarify that promise.

“When I said, ‘Mexico is going to pay for the wall,’ that’s what I said, ‘Mexico is going to pay.’ I didn’t say they’re gonna write me a check for $20 billion or $10 billion,” he said. “The Democrats are holding us up because they don’t want it. They think it’s good politically. I think it’s a disaster for them politically, but I’m not doing it for politics. I’m doing it because it’s right.”

While House Democrats refuse to fund the wall, they have passed standalone bills to fund individual government agencies. However, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has so far refused to bring those bills to the floor.

Meanwhile, at U.S. airports, Transportation Security Administration workers and air traffic controllers are among those not being paid.

The largest airline pilots union warned that fewer inspectors is simply dangerous.

Air traffic controllers and others in the aviation industry called for an end to the stalemate at a rally held in front of the U.S. Capitol Building on Thursday.

“Congress, White House, end this shutdown,” said Paul Rinaldi, a spokesperson for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers added their voices at the demonstration.

“If Donald Trump is not willing to end the shutdown, then the Congress of the United States needs to vote to end this shutdown today,” said U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.

“I’m opposed to the government shutdown,” echoed U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., “but to me, the danger is nowhere more imminent than in the air today. We cannot afford to play games with airline security.”

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has urged Trump to declare a national emergency and thereby fund the wall that way. However, the lawmaker said, he doesn’t see any compromise on the horizon.

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