The bitter political dispute over funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall extended its reach on Tuesday, with over 40,000 members of the Coast Guard not being paid as scheduled, joining 800,000 federal workers who missed a paycheck last week, as there were no indications of any break in the impasse, which was spurred by a funding lapse for part of the federal government that started before Christmas.
“We must re-open the government immediately,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), as Democrats – and some Republicans – highlighted the stories of federal workers from back home who are being financially squeezed by this shutdown showdown.
“I have $24 in cash on me and I have $2.40 left in my bank account,” tweeted Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), quoting a federal worker not getting paid because of the shutdown. “If we miss this upcoming paycheck, I will be completely broke.”
“Today at Denver International Airport, an air traffic controller told me how he worked through the holidays, only to receive a paycheck last Friday for 77 cents,” said Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO).
On social media, Democrats in Congress were sending out videos of federal workers who have missed paychecks, trying to add even more of a human element to this political fight.
Democrats even launched a website to take in shutdown stories from federal workers – trumpshutdownstories.us – which featured a picture of an overflowing trash can with the White House in the background.
While Republicans were making their own arguments about the need for more in the way of border security, the GOP was pumping out many fewer messages of support for the President and Republicans.
“I am furloughed and fully support the shut down,” was the message from a federal worker relayed on Twitter by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), one of the few such GOP statements on Monday. “Build the wall.”
Democrats ramped up their social media offensive as the January 15 pay date arrived for the Coast Guard – which unlike most of the federal government – still issues checks to members twice a month, instead of every two weeks.
Coast Guard members were getting extra attention back home as well in the press, as there were stories of special free food pantries, donated meals, offers to delay tuition payments for schools, and other ways that groups were trying to help Coast Guard members – but like other federal workers, their pay remains in limbo.
The growing number of stories had Republicans urging compromise as well to end the game of shutdown chicken – but there was no evidence of any GOP rebellion in Congress against the President.
“The reality is that federal workers have bills that need to be paid,” said Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).
There were no hints on Monday of any breakthrough, as President Trump lobbed more barbs and Democrats, and there were no reports of any talks or negotiations to resume the operations of about one-quarter of the federal government.
"When it comes to keeping the American people safe, I will never, ever back down," the President told a convention of the American Farm Bureau in New Orleans.
Democrats meanwhile unveiled two more plans to re-open the federal government; one would fund operations through February 1, the other through the end of February.
But at this point, Senate Republicans continue to refuse to bring any House-passed funding bills up for a vote; in retaliation, Democrats again on Monday blocked action on a bill dealing with foreign policy in the Mideast, arguing the only thing the Senate should be doing is funding the government, and getting federal workers paid.