Amid shutdown and snow, DMV lawmakers reach out to federal workers

Lawmakers across the Washington region spent the weekend touching base with federal workers affected by the government shutdown at roundtables, town halls and potlucks. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers across the Washington region spent the weekend touching base with federal workers affected by the government shutdown at roundtables, town halls and potlucks.

Rep. Anthony Brown held a town hall meeting in Largo, Maryland, on Saturday, where he took questions from constituents about the government shutdown.

One asked what they can be doing to help.

Brown responded by telling them to take care of themselves and their families, no matter how hard it gets.

“Don’t lose that burning desire that you have, don’t walk away from federal government, because we need you,” Brown said.

“Let me be clear: We miss paycheck number two, and there is going to be pandemonium,” Ros, a federal worker in Brown’s district, told Roll Call.  “They shouldn’t get paid and they shouldn’t leave Washington D.C. until this is settled,” she said, referring to Congress and the president. 

Chris Van Hollen of Maryland joined federal workers at a potluck Friday night at Montgomery Blair High School, where donations from the community fed more than 600 feds feeling the pinch of missing their paycheck. He even blew out candles on a cake to celebrate his 60th birthday.

Earlier in the week, Van Hollen was active in pushing legislation to give furloughed federal workers back pay. Bills ensuring that workers will get back pay passed the Senate on Thursday and the House on Friday.

“I was pleased … to at least take the cloud of uncertainty away from federal employees and guarantee that when this shameful shutdown ends, they will be paid in full, but what they really want to do is get back to work for the American people, so let’s keep pushing,” Van Hollen said at the event.

Also on Friday, Virginia’s Don Beyer hosted a roundtable discussion in Alexandria, with local government leaders, small businesses and federal employees to hear their stories of the impact of the shutdown on Virginia.

Beyer represents more than 80,000 federal employees, the largest number of any other House district, according to his office.

Virginia Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, both Democrats, met with federal employees from Northern Virginia to hear their stories as the shutdown drags on. A Friday roundtable meeting came on the first day that many federal workers did not receive paychecks, or in some cases received paychecks for $0.00.

“What we’ve seen from this administration is, they thought they could shut down the government and it wouldn’t affect folks,” Warner said. “That process, where they have politicized who is essential and who is not, needs to come to an end.”

Some events were derailed by the snowstorm that pounded the region Saturday night and into Sunday.

Maryland’s Jamie Raskin had planned to join the Amalgamated Transit Union International Sunday afternoon to serve free meals in Silver Spring to federal workers and their families.

“I’m so proud to join with the workers at ATU to host furloughed and unpaid federal workers and their families at our first Sunday Shutdown Supper,” Raskin said in a statement. “The labor movement is reminding us of the kind of solidarity and community that America really stands for. Let all who are hungry from this Shutdown and Lockout come eat!”

But the snow forced a change of plans. Raskin posted on Twitter that the event would be postponed, but that meals would be available during the week to federal workers.

Jinitzail Hernandez and Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.

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