Local federal workers hope a deal is struck in Washington to end shutdown as finances strain

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Senate is expected to consider two bills to temporarily reopen the federal government.

One measure by Democrats simply ends the shutdown for three weeks. The other, a Republican measure, would authorize $5.7 billion for a border wall.

Democrats are hoping their bill to reopen the government until Feb. 8 will win President Trump's approval because it will clear the way for him to give his State of the Union speech next week.

Whatever the motive, Jerry O'Gorman, an air traffic controller, says unpaid Federal workers are desperate to get anything.

"It would be a tremendous relief, it would mean money in our bank accounts," O'Gorman said.

Federal food safety inspector Meredith Dutton says even a temporary reprieve would help.

"For us just having them long enough to process the back pay, will make a big difference," Dutton said. "We will be disheartened if this doesn't last and we have to do this again but at least it would put people in a position to pay back what's already done at this point people have bills that have been wracking up since before Christmas."

Most of the nearly 10,000 federal workers in Fresno have been without pay for a month, and things are getting tough.

"That's a month's worth of pay so a lot of people have begun to take out loans offered generously by a lot of companies at low interest," O'Gorman said. "We found out this week unemployment was now available for those of us still working."

But the scrambling for assistance by those who've been working hard isn't easy to take.

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"Folks are doing their best to do their job to make sure the food on everyone's table is safe when they are having to go to the food bank and asking for help putting food on their own table," Dutton said.

In an effort to ease the impact on farmers the government has ordered the Farm Service Agency offices to reopen three days a week.

"That is great news because many of our farmers that have farm loans need those offices to go to the farm service agency get their paperwork finalized, payments or receive funds," said Manuel Cunha with Nisei Farmers League.

However, the employees in the office, like most of the rest of the federal workers wont be paid until the shutdown is over.

"Essentially we are here to do a job that's necessary for everybody, we provide safety and that's what we do, and to get caught up in an argument over something completely unrelated to our job is very frustrating for all of us," O'Gorman said.

The impact of the shutdown is hitting every federal office. At the Federal Courthouse, U.S. attorneys and Federal Marshalls aren't being paid. Funding for public defenders and court interpreters is running out. The hope is something will break in Washington this week.
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