Durbin: President Trump Holding 250,000 Veterans' Paychecks Hostage For His Border Wall

Senator shares story of air traffic controller, veteran, from Aurora, Illinois, going without a paycheck because of President Trump’s shutdown

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Republicans to reopen the government by passing the House-passed bipartisan bills – bills that earned the support of Senate Republicans just a few months ago.  In his speech on the Senate floor, Durbin noted how veterans are some of the hardest hit by President Trump’s shutdown.  Today, as many as 250,000 veterans across the country – direct hire federal workers and contractors alike – are going without pay due to the Trump shutdown.  In Illinois, there are approximately 50,000 federal workers, nearly 28 percent of whom are veterans, as of 2017.

“Saturday marked the longest shutdown of the government in the history of the United States.  As of today, the shutdown has continued for 26 days.  Day by day the harmful effects of this government shutdown are getting worse,” Durbin said.  “Alarmingly, the President seems to not really understand or appreciate the real life impact the shutdown is having on many Americans.  In all, more than 8,000 federal workers in my home state of Illinois are going without a paycheck during this shutdown.”

Durbin also shared the story of Toby Hauck, an Air Force veteran and air traffic controller in Aurora, Illinois, on the Senate floor.  Toby’s father and grandfather served in the U.S. military and now his son and daughter-in-law are deploying overseas this month.  Toby and his wife, a neonatal nurse, will be looking after their two-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter during the ten-month deployment, and Toby’s lack of pay adds stress to their already hectic jobs.

“Air traffic controllers have some of the most important and stressful jobs in America.  And this shutdown is a kick in the gut to Toby Hauck and all of these air traffic controllers,” Durbin said.

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate Floor are available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate Floor is available here.

Earlier this month, Durbin met with employees of the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research – also known as the Peoria Ag Lab – and highlighted how the government shutdown is threatening critical research projects, including key antibiotic research at the Peoria Ag Lab. 

Durbin also met with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees at O’Hare Airport in Chicago to hear how the shutdown is affecting their lives.  More than 1,600 TSA employees at O’Hare Airport and more than 400 TSA employees at Midway Airport are currently working without pay.