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Furloughed federal workers protest shutdown near Liberty Bell

Written by Sara Hoover/WHYY | Jan 9, 2019 4:15 AM
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Federal government employees rally to call for an end to the shutdown on Independence Mall Tuesday. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

(Philadelphia) -- Dozens of federal employees who are furloughed or working without pay rallied at Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia on Tuesday to call for an end to the partial federal government shutdown.

State and local lawmakers, along with many federal employee unions came out to support the workers who have been sidelined for 18 days.

U.S. Representatives Dwight Evans, Mary Gay Scanlon, Brendan Boyle and Brian Fitzpatrick spoke. Pa. state Sen. Vincent Hughes also spoke.

Julian Blanco, a park ranger at Independence Park for six years, said he and his wife bought their first home on the eve of the shutdown.

"It's actually really stressful," he said. "There was the worry as to whether or not all the paperwork for the FHA loans would go through. Fortunately, we closed before the shutdown really occurred. But now, the first mortgage payment is due. I'm out of a paycheck, so it's just my wife's paycheck and whatever we have leftover in savings to make ends meet."

He said not working has torpedoed his morale.

"I trained to be a ranger, "Blanco said. "I love being a ranger, and it's no good just being home all day just doing odd jobs and checking things off the 'honey do' list...It's definitely added stress to our lives, in our relationship and it's just all around us," said Blanco.

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Furloughed federal worker Meghan Powell, holding sign on left, demonstrates with others against the partial government shutdown in view of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The rally was the park ranger's first time back to the site since New Year's.

"Just concerns me the most is there's no one here besides those at the rally. There are no tourists. I don't see the tour groups. You don't see the tour buses running. This is the quieter time of the park but we still get visitors from all over the world and we can't tell them our story."

 

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