The longest government shutdown in U.S. history is uniquely personal for 800,000 federal workers -- approximately 12,000 in the Philadelphia area alone – went without a paycheck last Friday while members of Congress continue to get paid during the budget impasse.
That didn't sit well with U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA) who called the deprivation of local workers of their paychecks "simply unconscionable," and pinned the blame for the gridlock in Washington D.C. on President Donald Trump's demand for a border wall along the U.S.'s 1,400-mile southern border with Mexico.
"I urge my Republican colleagues and President Trump to stop this madness and accept my Democratic colleagues’ deal to open the government without money for a wasteful, ineffective wall, which wouldn’t address our country’s inadequate immigration policies and border security," Evans said in a statement, adding that he's received hundreds of calls at his office about the shutdown.
"President Trump’s actions created major consequences for these hard-working 800,000 Americans, such as struggling to put food on the kitchen table, pay for car payments, student loans, mortgage, and so much more... As your member of Congress, please know that I’m doing all that I can to find a solution for our federal workers and help their families during this tough time."
Evans announced he would forgo his own salary after meeting with a Philly mother of two who works in air traffic control and told him she has no idea when she will return to work or get paid again.
"I don't have anything to do with border security," the mother told Evans in an emotional video he posted on his Facebook page, adding that she wants leaders in Washington D.C. to "come together and not use us as pawns. ... People think that people aren't important that are getting affected by this."
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Last week, Evans and other Philadelphia-area Democrats rallied with on Independence Mall with federal workers' union to call for an end to the shutdown.
A woman at the rally who works with the U.S. Department of Housing and Human Services told Evans she is "nervous, scared, and just so upset" by the shutdown.
"I am ready to go back to work and serve the public and serve the people," she tearfully told Evans. "We need help.
On Jan. 10, Philly-area state senators issued a joint letter to the state's 10 largest banks, urging them to consider actions to assist the 12,000 out-of-work federal employees from the region, and to actively disseminate information about any financial assistance programs they can offer.
“The financial strain placed on federal government employees, contractors and subcontractors in the commonwealth continues to grow,” state Sen. Sharif Street said in a statement.
“This is a heavy burden on individuals and families who they cannot endure such hardships for an extended period of time. Banks have an opportunity to mitigate these hardships and must help the people. As the Democratic chairman of the Banking and Insurance Committee, I encourage the banks to act with urgency in this regard.”
Cultural institutions offer federal workers discounts
Some Philadelphia-area cultural institutions are offering discounts and special rates to help local federal workers go out with loved ones and have some fun.
See below for a list of local offerings. All offering require valid federal government work ID to be redeemed.
Museum of the American Revolution
The only national museum dedicated to the American Revolution announced that it will offer free admittance to any furloughed federal worker, plus three guests, for the remainder of the government shutdown.
Walnut Street Theatre
The theater announced that it "wants to share some laughter and joy with laid-off government workers," and so will be making available to furloughed workers a limited quantity of free tickets to each coming performances of its new production, Ken Ludwig’s A Comedy of Tenors, set in 1930s Paris. Two free tickets per eligible worker will be offered for the first two weeks of the run, but quantities per show are limited.
The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
The educational science museum said it will offer "pay-as-you-wish admission to federal employees" and their families. The policy will be in place through January 31 or government re-opening. Workers can bring a max of three guests.