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By Dareh Gregorian

Hundreds of furloughed government workers and contractors descended on the White House on Thursday to plead to be allowed to return to work.

Holding signs such as “Stop the war on workers” and “We want work, not walls,” the protesters assembled in the bitter cold outside of AFL-CIO union headquarters before making their way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

President Donald Trump wasn’t at the White House, but many of the protesters blamed him for the shutdown, which has now stretched in to its 20th day with no end in sight. Congress and the president have been locked in a stalemate over his demand for $5.7 billion to build a border wall that he’d said Mexico would pay for.

Over 800,000 workers have been affected by the partial government shutdown, which will become the longest in the country’s history by Saturday.

“I’d like the shutdown to end. I’d like to go back to my job,” said Matthew Chrichton, a 32-year-old staffer for the Peace Corps, adding that he’d moved to Washington for his job four months ago and “living in DC is expensive.”

“I have rent to pay,” he said. “I have bills I need to pay. I want to go to work, and I can’t because they can’t figure out how to fund the government.”

Others pointed the finger at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who has declined to take up spending bills passed by the Democratic-controlled House to reopen government without paying for a wall.

J. David Cox, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said McConnell should do his “damn job and let there be a vote.” Workers chanted “get us paid.”

I’

Hundreds of federal workers and contractors rally against the partial federal government shutdown outside the headquarters of the AFL-CIO on Jan. 10, 2019 in Washington, DC.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Smaller scale protests were held around the country, including in New York, Detroit, Dallas and Ogden, Utah, where the IRS is one of the area’s largest employers.

“Please let us go back to work, we’re hungry. We’re running out of money and it’s not about any party,” said Trina Ford, who’s worked for the IRS for 26 years, in Ogden. “I’m a committed employee. I commit to the government. I don’t want to not be paid.”

She said her daughter works at the agency as well, and has two young kids of her own.

“Usually, mama can help out. Mama can’t help her out this time,” Ford said. “It’s killing me.”

While Trump missed the protest in Washington, he was greeted by hundreds of demonstrators in McAllen, Texas, where he was visiting the border.

Associated Press and Vaughn Hillyard contributed.

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Brexit news: Will Queen be forced to SUSPEND Parliament?

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HARD Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg has suggested Theresa May could prevent an extension to Article 50 and a delay to Brexit by shutting down Parliament early.

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Hakeem Jeffries defends calling Trump ‘Grand Wizard of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue’

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Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

By Allan Smith

New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries is standing by remarks he made Monday in which he called President Donald Trump “the Grand Wizard of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”

In an interview Wednesday on CNN’s “New Day,” the House Democratic Caucus chairman said he had no regrets about the comment, which he made at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in New York City.

“We’ve got to have an opportunity for at least one day a year to have a candid if sometimes uncomfortable conversation about race,” Jeffries told CNN. “It seems to me that we can’t have that conversation on Valentine’s Day, we can’t have that conversation on Saint Patrick’s Day. It’s perhaps appropriate for us to be able to have that difficult discussion on MLK Day, when we’re celebrating the life and legacy of a champion for racial and social justice.”

Monday was not the first time Jeffries labeled Trump as such. But he told CNN that he “absolutely” does not think Trump is a Ku Klux Klan member. “Grand Wizard” is the title that was given to leaders of the white supremacist group.

“I did not use the words racist in any of my comments,” Jeffries said. “In fact, Wolf Blitzer in the past has asked me whether I believe the president is a racist, and I’ve consistently said no. I did use a colorful phrase, but of course I don’t believe that the president is a card-carrying member of the KKK. But it did capture a troubling pattern of racially insensitive and outrageous, at times, behavior that spans not months, not years, but decades.”

As examples, Jeffries cited a Justice Department lawsuit against the Trumps in the 1970s for alleged housing discrimination, the president’s remarks about the so-called Central Park Five, Trump’s promotion of the false conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama was not born in the United States, and the president’s handling of the fatal violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year.

Jeffries wasn’t the only Democratic leader to attack Trump’s racial record over the Monday holiday.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent and potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in South Carolina: “It gives me no pleasure to tell you that we now have a president of the United States who is a racist.”

In response, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel tweeted that Sanders’ remark was “disgusting and wrong.”

@realDonaldTrump has brought African American and Hispanic unemployment to record lows, passed historic criminal justice reform. Even worse that Bernie is using MLK Day to make an incendiary comment like that,” McDaniel wrote.



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