Editor's Note: This piece was authored by Townhall intern Ian Snively.
Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday directed an emergency rule to pay “essential” state government workers during the shutdown.
“This federal shutdown has deeply impacted families and communities throughout our state,” wrote Inslee on Facebook. “Today, at my direction, Washington Employment Security Department implemented emergency rule-making to extend unemployment benefits to ‘essential’ federal workers who have been directed to work either part-time or full-time without pay during the partial shutdown. We need to prioritize people over politics and end this shutdown.”
Essential workers include employees from the TSA, Coast Guard, border patrol, food inspectors, and the FBI, the governor explained during a live press conference hosted on his Facebook page.
“This is most unfair and most egregious,” Inslee said about the government workers who weren’t compensated for their labor.
According to Inslee, 16,000 Washington citizens won’t be able to see their second paycheck due to the shutdown. The ruling, Inslee estimated, will work to assist half of those workers, funding them through the state’s unemployment compensation trust fund.
“It is unconscionable that the President of the United States has turned his federal workers into political pawns,” Inslee said, criticizing President Trump for his insistence on a border wall.
Suzi Levine, commissioner of the Employment Security Department in Washington State, was present at the conference.
“These are tough times,” said Levine. “Affecting thousands in our state and pulling millions out of our economy each week. So we’re proud to be able to support in some way with this partial wage replacement, but there’s still more to do. We look forward to the end of the shutdown soon.”
According to Inslee, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Vermont are moving forward with similar policies for their government workers.
“I have not talked to those governors,” said Inslee. “All I know is that they’re totally right, because they agree with me.”
During the conference, one reporter told Inslee that the ruling wouldn’t be necessary if Democrats agreed to fund Trump’s border wall. He asked why it was important for the party to stand their ground against funding it.
“Democrats believe in border security too,” Inslee said. “But they don’t want to waste five billion dollars that could be spent on people’s healthcare and early childhood education for a wall to satisfy Donald Trump’s vanity and ego, out in the middle of the desert that doesn’t do anybody any good.”