Shutdown Protest

Dozens of federal workers affected by the shutdown protested outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's Louisville office, Jan. 10, 2019. (WDRB Photo)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Though some of them used precious gas to be there, all of the government workers who protested outside of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office in Louisville on Thursday did so in hopes their message would make it to McConnell in Washington.

On the 20th day of a government shutdown, and as Democrats and Republicans continue to battle over whether or not to fund a border barrier, some of the workers at the protest said they didn't even have opinions for or against the wall, but they don't think that issue shouldn't hold their livelihoods hostage.

They want to go back to work, and more importantly, they want their wages.

"Mitch McConnell, do your job!" they chanted. "Mitch McConnell, do your job!"

Just hours before, the majority leader blamed the shutdown stalemate on Democrats' refusal to negotiate on a border barrier.

"My Democratic colleagues are operating purely on political spite directed at the president of the United States," he said.

Earlier in the day, according to reports, he blocked a Democratic spending bill that he considered a show vote.

At the protest, Lorene Cleary wondered why she's a pawn in what she considers a stupid game of political chess.

"I've had a horrible year last year. I buried my son. I buried my mother. Everything was spent that we had saved," she said. "I don't understand how politics can take my home, my car and my family away."

Cleary, who lives in Jeffersontown, is a clerk for the U.S. Census Bureau's National Processing Center in Jeffersonville.

"I make $31,000 a year," Cleary said. "That's it."

Though hundreds of people at her office have been furloughed, she's still working but has no idea when she'll get paid again. While the furloughed workers can collect unemployment benefits, Cleary and other essential workers can't.

Cleary and the others said they want people to know they're not Washington fat cats. They're hardworking lower-to-middle-class citizens.

"If my paycheck doesn't come in over the weekend, it's going to be Feb. 1," Cleary said. "We can't pay all of our rent."

On Friday, she'll go to work anyway. It would normally be pay day for her and the others.

"I'm going to look at that bank account and say, 'Well, I hope my grandson doesn't come over this weekend, because I don't have the money to feed him.'"

Her hope is fading, but there's still a little bit left, a hope that the majority leader and others will hear their desperate pleas and make a deal.

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