About 60 People Rally In Houston To Demand End Of Government Shutdown

They gathered at the entrance to Johnson Space Center, whose employees are directly affected by the shutdown. A NASA worker tells Houston Matters he is very stressed.


About 60 people rallied Tuesday at Houston’s Johnson Space Center to demand the end of the partial shutdown of the federal government, which is directly affecting JSC employees, as well as people who work for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at local airports and other federal workers. So far, the shutdown has lasted 25 days.

A potential date for the government to reopen is uncertain because President Donald Trump rejected Monday a short-term legislative fix and dug in for more combat, declaring he would “never ever back down.” On the Democrats’ side, rank-and-file House members declined an invitation to have lunch with Trump on Tuesday.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi had given her blessing for lawmakers to accept the White House invitation, but White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said “unfortunately” no Democrats accepted.

Some of the people who rallied in Houston work for the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Watch a comment by Jalisa Broussard who rallied at Houston’s Johnson Space Center here:

Lloyd Van Oostenrijk works as an attorney for the EEOC, but he's been furloughed since the shutdown started on December 22.

“Not only can I not do anything,” Van Oostenrijk told News 88.7, “That means if you're an employee and you were sexually harassed on the job, you can't come to us and file your charge of sexual harassment because we're not there to take it.”

Justin Bautista, an electrical engineer that works for NASA and is vice president of the local chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees, told Houston Matters the situation is “very stressful.”

“With no end in sight, it starts becoming more than just some, some minor inconvenience,” Bautista said.

He noted one of his big concerns is not being back paid and not getting a paycheck is impacting routine payments such as his car insurance policy.

Furthermore, Bautista has had to delay getting his wisdom tooth removed because he doesn’t have the money to pay for that surgery.

He also said some of his contractor friends are also concerned about what will happen when their contract runs out of money. “For example, some of them will be paid through the end of this month. But starting next month what happens to them? And, since they are contractors and they are not civil servants such as myself, there is no back pay guaranteed for them.”

Asked what would be his message to lawmakers, Bautista said: “Please, let us go back to work” and added: “I would tell our lawmakers to please stop holding federal workers and the larger country hostage over some political matter. I would like to work and continue serving the American people.”

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Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is the News 88.7 business reporter and also covers criminal justice, guns and shootings.Florian's stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of...

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