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PFAW Joins #StopTheShutdown Rally Outside AFL-CIO and the White House

A group of people holding signs that say "Trump: End the shutdown"
News & Analysis

The government shutdown will soon be the longest in modern history and federal employees have missed their first scheduled paycheck—all over a racist wall Trump is demanding as a way to pander to his xenophobic base. To fight the injustice hundreds of thousands of American families are facing, PFAW joined a coalition of organizations on January 10 to rally against the shutdown.

Before marching to the White House, protestors rallied in front of AFL-CIO for various speeches from union leaders, members of Congress, and government employees who have been affected. Some of those in attendance included SEIU, AFL-CIO, a number of federal employee union leaders, and many members of Congress including Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
One of the first speakers was Richard Trumka of AFL-CIO. He discussed how the administration has turned its back on working, middle class families of America, and emphasized that Donald Trump is playing politics with the lives of real people, stating that “[i]nstead of going to the border for a photo op, Donald Trump should be on Capitol Hill negotiating.”

The next set of speakers included a number of members of Congress who expressed their frustration at Sen. Mitch McConnell’s, R-Ky., refusal to schedule a vote in the Senate to reopen the government. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., emphasized that the House passed a bill to reopen the government on their first day of the new session that the Senate refused to vote on. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va, stated that many Democrats were open to discussions about border security but that there was no need to hold 800,000 families hostage. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., noted that the administration was clearly out of touch with working class American families, and that a real crisis is happening right now in that hundreds of thousands of Americans are not getting paid.

Additional congressional speakers included Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, who made it clear that Republican senators need to stop dodging the shutdown blame. She stated that although McConnell has tried to deny his role in the shutdown, “[l]ast time I looked the president is not the majority leader who has the power to bring these bills to a vote.” Finally, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., declared that it is “unbelievable” that the president would deny hundreds of thousands a paycheck because he’s not getting his way.

The final speakers included union leaders and federal employees who are currently suffering under the administration’s refusal to compromise. They each spoke about the role they play as public servants and why their agencies are essential in keeping Americans safe and prosperous. Most expressed a sincere frustration with Republican senators who refuse to move forward and fear of what will happen to their families if the shutdown continues.

The rally ended with a march to the White House to show President Trump the faces of those who are affected by his shutdown. Over a thousand participants lined up in front of the White House and engaged in various chants, including “We want to work!” and “Stop the shutdown now!”