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MN Workers Speak Out On Federal Gov’t Shutdown

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) – Furloughed federal workers in Minnesota say they’re disgusted by the political impasse that will cost them in the pocketbook.

Many nonessential employees have been idled by the partial federal government shutdown that began early Tuesday. It’s anyone’s guess how long it will last.

There are 18,000 federal workers in Minnesota, but it’s unsure how many were sent home on Tuesday.

On a bridge above a Minneapolis highway, furloughed federal workers said they’re being used by selfish politicians.

“Quit using us as pawns,” said Tom Koehler, a furloughed worker said. “(I blame) politicians. All of them — every single one of them.”

The Air Force Reserve furloughed 300 workers at the nearby 934th Airlift Wing, and some say they’re already living paycheck to paycheck.

“How do you feed your family? How do you house your family? It’s ridiculous right now,” said Dan Delgado, a furloughed worker.

The gridlock in Washington brought shuttered gates to national parks in Minnesota, delays in critical research grants to the University of Minnesota, a slowdown at the passport office and the blame game in lunch conversations around the country.

“I think it stinks and I blame the Republicans, because the tea party just wants to mess with everybody’s mind,” said Dan Taylor of Golden Valley.

Not everyone thinks the shutdown is a bad thing: some say it’s worth the effort to de-fund “Obamacare”– or require Congress to use it.

“If they think that Obamacare should be for the United States, then they need to be the first ones to get in line with their Obamacare card and using that for their health insurance,” Cheri Hallaway said.

But federal workers out of a job and a paycheck said they’ve been singled out. Workers said the fact they aren’t getting paid but that politicians are, is frustrating.

Late today, Minnesota members of Congress said they’re donating their pay to charities, or asking not to get paid – that includes Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, and Congressmen Rick Nolan, Erik Paulsen and Tim Walz.

Roughly 1,200 military technicians who support activities of the Minnesota National Guard are being furloughed during the federal government shutdown, too.

Lt. Col. Jon Lovald says supervisors informed the technicians Tuesday morning that the will be out of work until further notice. The federal government’s lack of a spending resolution triggered a partial shutdown that began at midnight.

Those being sidelined are among the 2,100 full-time military support personnel at the Guard.

Lovald’s statement says that citizen-soldiers and airmen remain ready to respond in case of emergencies.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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