Deal to reopen federal government brings temporary relief to Hawaii workers

Deal to reopen federal government brings temporary relief to Hawaii workers
At Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, news of the short-term deal to reopen the government spread through the security lines. (Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The news of a short-term deal to reopen the government brought relief to Hawaii’s federal workers whose lives have been in limbo for the last 35 days.

"It feels like a big weight was lifted off our shoulders," said Dwayne Bautista, union president for Honolulu's federal detention center.

At Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, news of the deal spread through the security lines.

The nation's longest-running shutdown forced some TSA officers to resign, while many continued to work without pay.

"It's nice to know they'll get paid," said David Henry, a visitor from Montana. "You want those essential functions working. That's what we expect as normal citizens."

The deal keeps the government open until February 15 and includes back pay for some 800,000 workers, who missed their second paycheck on Friday.

It does not include funding for President Trump's wall.

While the White House says workers will be receiving their back pay in a few days, Bautista says he's worried about what will happen if the president and lawmakers can't reach a final deal in three weeks.

"If nothing's settled again on February 15th, we're back to square one. It feels like the American people are being juggled. It's scary to have a paycheck one month and then you're not going to get paid another month," Bautista said.

Bautista says the upcoming weeks are going to be a mad rush with federal workers trying to catch up on their bills and preparing for the possibility of another government shutdown.

"We got to take it in, absorb it, pay our bills, and, once again, prep for another storm," said Bautista.

U.S. Rep. Ed Case says he hopes a lesson has been learned that government should never be shut down because of policy disagreements.

"There are real people out there being affected in real ways, and I think that was a lesson that was completely lost in all of this," said Case. "If people come to the table all over again and say 'it's my way or the highway,' then this is where were going to be in three weeks."

But President Trump has already given lawmakers an ultimatum if the new deal doesn't include a wall or steel barrier.

"If we don't get a fair deal from congress, the government will either shut down on February 15 again or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the constitution of the United States to address this emergency," said Trump.

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