Protesters Urge Sen. Portman To Help End Government Shutdown

Jan 11, 2019

A group of activists gathered Friday afternoon outside Sen. Rob Portman’s office to encourage him to do more to end the partial government shutdown.

Protesters carried signs and chanted outside Portman's downtown Columbus office. They want Ohio's Republican senator to pressure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring a budget vote before the Senate.

Some 800,000 federal workers did not receive paychecks Friday because of the shutdown. One of them was TSA officer Aaron Bankston, who says federal employees just want to get paid to do their jobs, since they still need to show up to work.

“We’re out here securing America’s flying public and everything. Trying to get them together. It’s just rough for us to do it without getting paid,” Bankston says. “We’re trying to keep a good, sane mind on that. That’s all.”

Bankston is also the president of Local 615 of the American Federation of Government Employees. He says as the shutdown stretches on, federal employees are facing tough financial decisions.

“It’s just going crazy right now. The mortgage people don’t want to work with some people. Some people are getting their cars repossessed and everything,” Bankston says. “It’s just going crazy. We just need to get back to work.”

AFGE national organizer Hope Berndt says people take for granted the role federal employees play in everyday life.

“When we don’t think about the clean air that we breathe, the clean water we get out of our tap water, or the food that’s inspected or the educational standards for our educational system and stuff, we take that all for granted,” Berndt says.

Ohio's Democratic senator, Sherrod Brown, has critized Trump for demanding border wall funding in exchange for reopening the government. He says money for border security should be separate from a funding bill.

If the shutdown continues past midnight, it'll become the longest in U.S. history, passing the 21-day closure during President Bill Clinton's administration.