Federal workers rally and react to end of government shutdown in downtown Houston

Saturday, January 26, 2019
Federal workers react to end of government shutdown
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"We can't throw away the (protest) signs yet, because in three weeks, we'll be back."

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Friday afternoon, dozens of furloughed federal workers held a rally to end the partial government shutdown in front of the Leland Federal Building in downtown Houston.

Thirty minutes later, they received word that President Trump called for the government to reopen for three weeks, as negotiations continue for his $5.7 billion demand to build a border wall.

The response from those who've gone without paychecks for 34 days was less than enthusiastic.

RELATED: President Trump, Congress agree to end longest government shutdown

"We can't throw away the (protest) signs yet, because in three weeks, we'll be back," said Clifton Buchanan, with the American Federation of Government Employees. Buchanan works for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

It was the longest shutdown of its kind on record, and it had serious consequences for furloughed workers at Johnson Space Center.

"I've had to go to the Houston Food Bank," Vanessa Jordan said. "You lose your pride when you go through something like this. I've had to take out two loans so I make it through this."

According to Jordan, employees assigned to the International Space Station were asked whether they could volunteer to perform janitorial duties. Those workers were already working through the shutdown without pay.

RELATED: A look back at other recent federal government shutdowns

"It's not that the work is beneath us," Jordan said. "It's not what we were hired to do. That's a contractor's job, and they're not getting paid either."

Bridget Broussard-Guidry was also doubtful that the short-term funding will accomplish much.

"We'll get our back pay, but we could be facing this all over again in three weeks," Broussard-Guidry said. "Why can't they just end this shutdown once and for all, and fund it until the end of the fiscal year?"

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