January 17, 2019

Manchin Addresses Federal Employees in Fairmont; Could Join Bi-Partisan Effort To End Shutdown | WV MetroNews

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., would like to be part of the solution in ending the now weeks-long government shutdown that has kept some federal employees from work and has required others to work without pay.

Manchin spoke at a roundtable Monday morning in front of around 100 federal employees at the High Technology Foundation in Fairmont.

“You have a lot of essentials — people that work for the prisons, people work TSA, people work air traffic controls,” Manchin said. “They’re required to come to work, and if they don’t come to work they are in jeopardy of losing their job and if they do come to work they can’t get paid.”

The Washington Post reported Monday afternoon Manchin is attempting to join a bi-partisan group of U.S. senators who hope to force an end to the government shutdown, which is closing in on four full weeks.

Much of the disagreement in Washington D.C. centers on the impasse between the President and Congressional Democrats, who have yet to find a bridge to meet on border security funding.

“Just building a secured fence or wall, whatever you want to call it, is not going to fix the immigration problem,” Manchin said. “And not building a wall is not going to fix it. You need to have a structure, and we agree to that. But there’s more to it.”

Manchin said a wall with no sightlines is a mistake, but he would support some kind of structure at the border.

“There’s no disagreement on those six bills,” Manchin said. “The President just won’t sign because he uses that as a leverage for Homeland Security. I want border security. I have voted for it and will continue to vote for it, but also you have to fix the immigration broken problem that you have.”

He likened it to a “chicken or the egg” debate — unsure of which problem you solve first.

“If you’re going to solve an immigration problem, that means we want to get rid of the people that came here the wrong way for the wrong reasons — committed crimes, praying on our society and our people,” Manchin said. “We need to throw them out and keep them out. Well, you can’t throw them out and keep them out if you don’t have a secured border.”

Over the course of the round-table, Manchin fielded questions from federal prison employees from Hazelton’s federal facility, IRS and FBI employees, and a number of other “infuriated” federal employees who said the time without pay was hardly a vacation — whether you are working or not.

One FBI employee who is deemed non-essential asked Manchin why Congress can’t ever meet their Oct. 1 deadline for passing a budget, saying no President should be permitted to hold Americans hostage.

Another employee with the IRS derided the Catch 22 nature of a shutdown — an employee who is deemed non-essential can’t always go outside of their normal realm to find other work, because they would need to make sure that work complies with human resource practices at their agency.

The problem: human resources is also deemed non-essential and will not be available to answer that question.

Manchin’s message: “Send me e-mails. Call my office. Call Sen. Capito’s office. Tell us what’s going on.”

President Trump has backed off his threat last week of declaring a national emergency to re-open the government, calling on Congressional Democrats to cast their votes with him.

Congressional Democrats have essentially deemed a wall a “non-starter,” and the two sides are around $4 billion apart in funding.

By:  Alex Wiederspiel