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Federal workers protest shutdown outside McConnell’s local office in Kentucky

The Hill logo The Hill 1/11/2019 Morgan Gstalter
Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn are posing for a picture: Federal workers protest shutdown outside McConnell’s local office in Kentucky © Greg Nash Federal workers protest shutdown outside McConnell’s local office in Kentucky Federal workers furloughed or forced to work without pay during the partial government shutdown protested outside of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R) office in Louisville, Ky. Thursday.

The American Federation of Government Employees' local chapter organized about 50 people to join the rally outside of McConnell's downtown office, the Louisville Courier Journal reported.

The federal workers held signs saying "We Want to Work" and "End the Shutdown Now," nearly three weeks after the Dec. 22 shutdown was triggered over President Trump's demand for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

McConnell earlier Thursday blocked two House-passed funding bills to reopen the federal government.

The Kentucky Republican objected when nearly two dozen Senate Democrats tried to get consent to bring a bill that would fun the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 8, as well as a separate package to fund other agencies without current-year appropriations until the end of September.

Any senator can try to force a vote or pass a bill, but any one senator can block them, according to Senate rules.

"The last thing we need to do right now is trade pointless - absolutely pointless - show votes back and forth across the aisle," McConnell said.

McConnell has vowed not to bring up a bill that the president would not support as the White House spars with Democrats over the $5.7 billion Trump wants to build the wall.

The thousands of furloughed employees not getting paid during the shutdown are expected to miss their first paychecks this week, The Courier Journal noted.

Some of the protesters outside of McConnell's office told the newspaper that they were against the wall.

Housing and Urban Development employee Anice Chenault called it "Sophie's choice" - she wants employees to get their wages but doesn't want Trump to get his wall.

"I think it's a racist policy," she said. "We have no crisis at the border."

Kristy Demas works for the U.S. Census Bureau in Jeffersonville, Indiana and was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

She told The Courier Journal that she's having trouble covering prescriptions, co-pays and other medical expenses when she's furloughed.

"I was already in the hole on the last paycheck, so now it's even worse," she said.

Demas has applied for unemployment benefits in Indiana but hasn't heard back yet.

The shutdown is heading into its third week on Friday and is poised to break a record this weekend as the longest shutdown ever.

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