Virginians sound off on shutdown: ‘We’d be better off if the politicians had to sacrifice salaries’

Government shutdown felt across RVA

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Wednesday marked the 12th day of a federal government shutdown that’s triggered deep uncertainty for 800,000 workers. Some are being ordered to stay home on furlough, while others are working without pay.

More than 130,000 federal employees across Virginia - many of them in Richmond - are feeling the impact.

The Federal Building in downtown Richmond was quiet on Wednesday afternoon. A sign on the front door informed visitors that multiple federal agencies are closed because of the shutdown, including the IRS, Small Business Administration and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

“I think it’s terrible. I think it’s absolutely atrocious that our government can’t cooperate,” said resident Pamela Kimball. “… Having to worry about paying their mortgages, putting food on the table ... that is ridiculous.”

Federal union representatives say it’s not guaranteed anyone will get reimbursed once the shutdown ends, even if that’s what’s happened in previous years.

Local landmarks like the National Battlefield Park in Petersburg, Tredegar Iron Works, and the Maggie Walker National Historic Site, are closed. But visitors looking to experience all of Maggie Walker and her legacy can still admire her statue, which has become a fixture on Broad Street.

"You can see a lot of the history on the markers about Maggie Walker,” said Melvin Jones Jr., an advocate of the Maggie Walker statue, who helped get it erected in the summer of 2017.

Jones says people touring the River City over the holiday have been dismayed that Maggie Walker’s museum is closed.

"They wanted to know why they couldn’t get into the Maggie Walker house,” said Jones. “Hopefully, the federal government will do the right thing and get these museums open for everybody.”

"I think we’d be better off if the politicians had to sacrifice their salaries, and I bet you it would get settled much more quickly,” added Kimball.

The government has shut down 18 times, since Congress took on this style of budgeting in the 1970s. Congress has historically given back pay for furloughed employees.

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