Speaking on the Senate floor Thursday, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto called on President Trump to reopen shuttered government agencies, and highlighted the impact the shutdown was having on Nevadans.
Cortez Masto said the president’s “govern-by-chaos approach” was affecting hundreds of thousands of federal workers and contractors across the country who would miss their first paycheck of the shutdown this week. Workers are being “used as pawns in this president’s political game,” the senator said.
“Hardworking Nevadans are writing and calling me to say they are worried about paying the bills, supporting their children and keeping up with their mortgage payments,” Cortez Masto said. “One Nevadan, who is currently working without pay, told me that he and his colleagues are struggling to pay for the gas to drive to their unpaid jobs. Another Nevada mother told me that her son, newly enlisted in the United States Coast Guard, is now facing eviction just one month after reporting for duty.”
Federal employees are not the only ones affected by the shutdown, tribes and national parks have suffered consequences as well, said Cortez Masto. Most tribal communities in the United States get a substantial amount of funding from the federal government. Like the Yomba Shoshone Tribe in Nevada whose financial reserves ran out after the first two weeks of the shutdown and the Walker River Paiute Tribe who have been cut off from assistance programs that provide participants with cash for shelter, utilities, and other basic needs.
Cortez Masto also spoke of her support for legislation led by Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) she co-sponsored to protect federal workers from foreclosures, evictions and loan defaults during the shutdown.
“I support my colleagues’ legislation to provide the back pay needed to protect these families and ensure that their credit isn’t hurt because of a government shutdown that they had no control over,” Cortez Masto said.
Cortez Masto urged Congress to pass legislation to reopens the government and send it the president, adding that if the president vetoes it, Congress should work together to override his veto.
“It’s time for us to work together,” Cortez Masto said. “Let’s open this government. Let’s show these federal workers they aren’t political pawns. Let’s show them the respect and dignity they deserve.”
Some Senate Republicans say they are willing to break with Trump and vote for a resolution to keep the government open, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has steadfastly refused to allow a vote on anything without Trump’s approval.
Approximately 800,000 workers nationally, including an estimated 3,450 federal employees in Nevada, have either been furloughed and are working without pay.