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FBI employee union demands end to shutdown
Ben R / CCL
As many FBI agents faced missing their first paychecks on Friday due to the partial government shutdown, a union representing the nation’s FBI agents demanded that President Donald Trump and Congress fund the Justice Department.
“This situation is not sustainable,” the agents write. “The important work done by the Bureau needs to be funded immediately.”
FBI group demands Trump end shutdown
Since the government shutdown is only “partial,” only some departments are affected. Government workers considered essential are still working without pay, including FBI agents.
The organization’s president Tom O’Connor told the Washington Examiner that nearly 13,000 FBI agents will miss their paychecks. The association said that their agents would continue protecting the country but that missed paychecks would get in the way of their jobs, calling the situation “unsustainable.”
“On Friday, January 11, 2019, FBI Agents will not be paid due to the partial government shutdown, but we will continue our work protecting our nation,” the petition reads. “We urge our elected representatives to fund the Department of Justice (‘DOJ’) and the FBI because financial security is a matter of national security.”
The advocacy organization, which represents almost all 14,000 current and retired FBI agents, explained that leaving FBI agents without paychecks could imperil their ability to pay for new or renewed security clearances that require “rigorous and routine financial background checks to ensure that Agents are financially stable and responsible.”
“Missing payments on debts could create delays in securing or renewing security clearances, and could even disqualify Agents from continuing to serve in some cases,” the petition read.
They also warned of losing skilled cybersecurity workers to the more lucrative private sector while pay is on hold and of agents having to conduct investigations with increasingly limited resources.
“The men and women of the FBI proudly serve this nation and are honored to protect our country and Constitution from all threats, foreign and domestic,” the petition reads. “We are confident that our leaders share this commitment to protecting our country and will find a path forward to fund the DOJ and the FBI.”
No end in sight
There is no end in sight to the shutdown, which has impacted more than half a million government workers. Republicans and Democrats remain locked in a stalemate over $5 billion in funding for Trump’s border wall. Democrats have been ratcheting up the pressure on Trump to stop holding government workers “hostage” and agree to open the government with no deal for the wall.
Now ending its third week, the shutdown has affected several departments, including the FBI, TSA, and DEA, forcing workers to take furloughs or work without pay. The Department of Homeland Security has notably stuck by Trump through the shutdown, pushing back on reports from CNN that hundreds of TSA employees staged a “sick out” that disrupted airport security. Border Patrol’s union chief has said that the wall is more important than missed pay.
There are reports that some law enforcement operations have been marginally impacted by the shutdown, but media critics say that the damage is exaggerated and that the Democrats are using government workers as pawns to force the government open with no wall. All week, the media has uncritically echoed the Democrats’ claims that the border crisis is “manufactured” while focusing on its own government crisis narrative to turn up the heat on Republicans.
But Republicans agree that if Trump folds on the shutdown, the wall will not get built and he may never get another chance. While the FBI union described the shutdown as a danger to national security — and it certainly is a problem — Trump and the DHS have argued that a wall is necessary to protect the country and that ending the shutdown would eliminate any leverage they have to get funding for border security.
There’s a simple solution to the madness. The Democrats should meet the president halfway, fund border security and open the government so law enforcement officials can get paid.
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