Capitol Alert

A ‘woohoo’ and then worry: How federal workers in California felt when the shutdown ended

A big “woohoo” broke out at the Sacramento International Airport on Friday as federal employees learned they were close to getting paychecks after a record-breaking 35-day government shutdown.

But the euphoria didn’t last long.

TSA workers at the airport quickly reminded each other that the deal President Donald Trump announced has funding for only three weeks, and another shutdown could be on the horizon, said Rebecca Kane, a Sacramento TSA worker who was at a checkpoint as the news spread.

“We’re all concerned that we’re going to be in the same position that we were in three weeks from now,” Susan Braverman, who has worked for the TSA for 16 years, says.

They were among the roughly 800,000 federal employees who haven’t been paid in weeks because of an impasse in the Capitol over Trump’s demand that lawmakers fund the border wall he promised during his 2016 campaign. The agreement he announced does not include funding for the wall.

Outside of the Beltway, the shutdown cut pay to a wide range of government workers, from Coast Guard employees in Alameda to forecasters at the National Weather Service, scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park and rangers throughout California’s national parks.

Braverman as a union leader in AFGE Local 1230 has been delivering food donations to colleagues who’ve been having trouble getting through the weeks of work without pay.

Her coworkers still need help. Two more of them reached out to her in the last few days.

“There’s still a lot of uncertainty and the needs of our officers are immediate,” she said.

Gary Holdsworth, a lead transportation security officer and union leader, said the shutdown revealed some “bright spots.” He was encouraged by organization that offered to help unpaid workers. Credit unions, for instance, offered zero interest loans and community groups made food donations.

He remains frustrated by the leaders who let the shutdown occur. “They stole a month of normal living from your basic workers,” he said.

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