People from all over Montgomery County joined Congressional Representatives to stop the government shutdown at the Silver Spring Civic Center
On January 9, Congressman Jamie Raskin chaired a panel with Representatives Don Beyer, Abigail Spanberger, Chris Van Hollen, and Labor Organizers from the "AFGE", to discuss the now 22 day long government shutdown.
With a crowd of over 200 people from all walks of life, Montgomery County rallied in solidarity with federal workers, private contractors and the millions of americans facing the nightmare of a cutoff of public services. The rally shed light on the shutdown from a diverse set of perspectives, the night ending with the unanimous cry: “All for one and one for all, stop the shutdown, stop the wall”.
Congressman Raskin started off the night by declaring the adverse affects the government shutdown has had on constituents across the DMV. “All over the area, all over the community, federal workers will never get paid back and even if the government passes legislation to do that, what about the civil servants that clean our buildings? I am co-sponsoring with the delegate from District 20, Eleanor Holmes Norton, legislation to see that low-paid workers will get paid back every penny,” Representative Raskin stated. The proposed bill is expected to be voted on imminently, however will likely be halted in Senator Mitch Mcconnell's Republican controlled Senate.
The rally also served the purpose of giving federal workers a platform for expressing how the government shutdown has affected their lives. Many Federal Workers explained how they were not necessarily in financial trouble. One employee for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) wished to remain anonymous when explaining how the government shutdown has affected her. "I’m not a paycheck away, but I’m maybe two paychecks away, before devastating my finances,” Lydia explained.
Instead, federal employees are more upset about how they can’t work on the research they are passionate about. “I am a civil servant, I serve the United States of America. And I am proud to do that, but we are being held hostage. At NOAA I lead a team of 15 or so Scientists trying to stop Climate Armageddon and I can’t access my email. I coordinate with researchers from France and other countries and I can’t contact them to do the work I love,” Lydia argues. Many americans working for the federal government just want to do the job they love.
Student organizers and activists attending the rally voiced their support for parents and friends that are working without pay or have been temporarily laid off. The government shutdown is also discouraging for Blair students that have expressed interest in pursuing a career in civil service. Emma Morganstein, a Blair senior, and Democracy Summer Alumni, said, “It’s disappointing to see our government this polarized and shut down over a political promise. If this is how petty politics are, and if politicians prevent researchers and scientist from doing their jobs, I’m not sure if I want to play any part in that type of system.”
Both Democrats and the President are showing no signs of backing down, meaning the shutdown could last weeks and even months. The example the government is setting impacts students and sets a precedent for how Congress and the Executive office value the civil servants that provide public services without political affiliation.
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