The partial government shutdown entered its fifth week Jan. 21, four days before Trump and Congress reached a deal to reopen and fund the government through Feb. 15.
800,000 of us were held hostage for 35 days. The shutdown ended because we kept the pressure on. We won because we stood together as the shutdown/lockout ended without the President being rewarded for holding 800,000 federal employees hostage. We won because we were able to make sure everybody got back pay.
Here are 10 things that happened on Week 5 of the shutdown as 800,000 federal employees were forced to either work without pay or stay home without pay:
1. Deal reached to reopen government, but AFGE calls on Congress to pass full-year legislation
Because of our calls and visits to Congress and endless protests across the country, Trump finally agreed to reopen the government after a 35-day standoff over border wall funding that became the longest shutdown in U.S. history, causing severe financial hardship for over 800,000 federal workers.
2. Furloughed workers staged a sit in protest at the Hart Senate Building
AFGE and our allies organized hundreds of furloughed employees for a sit-in protest Jan. 23 to bring attention to the longest government shutdown and demand that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell do his job and immediately reopen the government. We stood in silence for 33 minutes – one for each day of the shutdown which began Dec. 22 and dragged on to its fifth week Jan. 21.
After the protest, AFGE President J. David Cox Sr., Political Director Tucker McDonald and other union leaders were arrested for refusing to leave McConnell’s office without speaking to him.
3. Congress rejected competing proposals to end the shutdown
The Senate Jan. 24 rejected two very different proposals that would have reopened the government. Both proposals – one with a $5.7 wall funding and one without – failed to get the 60 votes required.
As the Senate was about to vote on the bills, we held a National Day of Action in which AFGE members called their senators and representatives and “shut down” congressional phone lines by telling them to immediately reopen the government.
4. White House wanted a list of programs to be affected if the shutdown drags on into March
White House Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney had asked agency heads to provide a list of programs that could be endangered if the shutdown drags on into March and April. Observers said this was evidence the Trump administration was preparing for a long-term shutdown that had already devastated 800,000 federal employees and was starting to impact national security and public health. Ultimately, a deal was reached to reopen the government through February 15.
5. 7 in 10 Americans believe the wall is not worth a government shutdown
American people are weighing in, and it wasn’t good news for Trump, who demanded that Congress give him $5.7 billion to build a border wall if they wanted to reopen the government. According to a new poll, 7 in 10 Americans didn’t think the wall is worth a government shutdown. 6 in 10 believe the shutdown was causing serious problems for the country.
6. The FAA delays flights due to staffing shortages.
The Federal Aviation Administration delayed flights at major airports due to staffing shortages caused by the Trump-McConnell shutdown.
7. The shutdown is threatening national security
FBI agents detailed damage the shutdown had caused to national security, including their work in counter-terrorism. The majority of FBI employees were on the job but without pay.
8. Several AFGE locals opened temporary food banks
Several AFGE locals, including those representing employees at non-shuttered agencies, had set up temporary food banks to help feds who are going without pay. AFGE VA Local 2054 in Little Rock, Arkansas, for example, had started a food pantry to help fellow federal employees at shuttered agencies.
AFGE District 10 provided meals near George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) to federal employees who had been locked out of their jobs or were working without pay during the shutdown. AFGE District 10 partnered with the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim Community, Airport Commissioner Zafar Tahir, and HAS-Houston Airport Systems to provide the meals.
9. Billionaire and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross didn’t understand why feds use food banks
Ross told CNBC he didn’t understand why federal employees who are not getting their paychecks have to go to food banks when they can just take out loans from banks or credit unions in an interview that was universally panned as out-of-touch and tone-deaf.
10. Trump’s daughter-in-law says shutdown is "a little bit of pain" but future generations will "thank" workers "for their sacrifice"
Trump’s daughter-in-law and advisor Lara Trump was urging federal employees to continue to sacrifice their paychecks for Trump’s border wall, saying their children will thank them for it. As someone who supports a shutdown over the wall, Lara should be sacrificing her paychecks, not federal employees. Federal employees just want to go to work and get paid for it!