Hawaii's federal workers can breathe for now, but another shutdown is looming

Updated: Jan. 22, 2018 at 5:13 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The government shutdown has ended for now, but not before creating a lot of anxiety for many of Hawaii's 70,000 federal civilian and military employees.

Many of those workers received furlough notices Monday morning and were sent home from work before Congress and the Trump administration were able to reach a compromise.

"It was very heartbreaking for federal government workers to go in and receive their furlough notices today and be told they were not going to be paid," said Jamie Hiranaka, of the Professional and Technical Engineers Union, which represents Pearl Harbor shipyard workers.

Hawaii's congressional delegation was split on the deal, with U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono and Rep.Tulsi Gabbard voting against the agreement, while U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa voted for the compromise.

If no long-term deal is reached, another shutdown could happen in three weeks.

"When you think of Hawaii's 33,000 federal civilian employees and 40,000 men and women in uniform, it is such a great economic burden on them," said Hanabusa.

While the government shutdown has had wide-ranging effects on federal agencies here in Hawaii, some locations like the Pearl Harbor Memorial continued to remain open through the weekend and today.

That's because nonprofits supporting the visitor attractions provided enough operating money until today's deal ending the shutdown could be reached.

The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl was also open because the National Cemetery Administration set aside money in anticipation of the shutdown.

Arizona m=Memorial visitors Teri and Mark Persico said they were glad these national landmarks remained open today.

"It would have been tragic to miss. It was really an amazing and amazing sight to see and it's just unfortunate that we've come to this," said Mark Persico of Pasadena, Calif.

"It's very tragic and it's unfortunate that adults can't come to compromise that people can't see the bigger picture."

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