NJ federal workers feel the pinch of shutdown
TRENTON — As federal government workers face their first "payless payday," some in New Jersey are voicing their frustration and getting tokens of appreciation for continuing to work.
Some 800,000 workers, more than half of them still on the job, were to miss their first paycheck on Friday under the stoppage, and Washington was close to setting a dubious record for the longest government shutdown in the nation's history. Those markers — along with growing effects to national parks, food inspections, and the economy overall — left some Republicans on Capitol Hill increasingly uncomfortable with President Donald Trump's demand to build a wall along the southern border of the United States.
There have been no indications that a compromise was in the offing. Trump has said he won't reopen the government without money for the wall. Democrats favor measures to bolster border security, but oppose the long, impregnable barrier that Trump envisions
Gov. Phil Murphy slammed Trump, in a message on his Twitter account, for "failing the American people by continuing the government shutdown," and encouraged furloughed workers in New Jersey to apply for unemployment benefits.
Several Environmental Protection Agency workers based in Edison held signs along Woodbridge Avenue on Thursday to show their frustration at not being able to work. Edward J. Guster III told MyCentralJersey.com about three dozen employees are considered "essential" and have to work without getting their paychecks.
Guster was concerned about not being able to check for leaks in gas station tanks and the impact of the shutdown on local businesses where his colleagues were not spending money.
Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes and other county officials bought lunch for about 20 Transportation Security Administration workers at Trenton-Mercer Airport on Wednesday as a "small gesture in recognition of the sacrifices being made by TSA screeners."
TSA workers also continue to work despite no paychecks; many are calling out sick or quitting in frustration.
The owner of the Sky Lounge at Ewing, the airport's restaurant, told NJ.com he will offer workers free lunch for the next few weeks.
During previous shutdowns, workers received their pay retroactively, but that doesn't help when bills are due now.
The partial shutdown would set a record early Saturday, stretching beyond the 21-day closure that ended Jan. 6, 1996, during President Bill Clinton's administration.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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