LEAGUE CITY — About a dozen furloughed NASA employees and Galveston County Democrats protested the ongoing federal government shutdown outside of U.S. Rep. Randy Weber’s district office in League City on Friday.
The protesters accused Weber and House Republicans of holding the government hostage over President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, putting the health and economic stability of Galveston County residents at risk.
Weber, who is in Washington, D.C., issued a statement Tuesday saying that Democrats forced a government shutdown by “ignoring the will of the people” and refusing to compromise with Republicans.
“If the president and the Senate majority wants to get out of this mess, they must come to the table and negotiate with the House,” he said in the statement.
Protesters said the political impasse over the health care law is having a painful effect on furloughed workers and others in the county.
Dennis Lawler, a software engineer at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, said he was applying for unemployment insurance out of concern that federal workers will not receive back pay for furloughed days.
The furlough has delayed Lawler’s work on several projects, and he said it will be difficult to catch up after the shutdown ends.
Lawler’s wife is a contractor at the space center, and he said the government shutdown has thrown his family’s finances into disarray.
“It cascades,” he said. “It’s just a domino effect.”
Rusty Cates runs the Coffee Oasis at 4650 NASA Parkway. Many of his customers work at Johnson Space Center, and the shutdown has led to a significant decline in the coffee shop’s business, he said.
Several of the protesters in League City said Friday that political involvement from local residents is critically important.
Cates, who in 2012 ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the Texas House of Representatives, said political apathy would only lead to more trouble.
“We can’t do that anymore,” Cates said. “It’s time to stand up and take back responsibility for this country.”
Kimberlee Kyle, a League City psychotherapist, said the shutdown and continuing gridlock in Washington was making many local residents fearful about the future.
“We’re at the mercy of this,” she said. “We’re talking financial devastation.”
Going into the fifth day of government shutdown, most of the League City protesters weren’t optimistic about a quick resolution.
Lawler, for his part, has already decided how to spend his furloughed days.
“For every day I’m off, I’m going to send a dollar to the campaign opponents of (U.S. House Republicans) John Boehner and Paul Ryan.”
Contact reporter Alex Macon at 409-683-5244 or firstname.lastname@example.org.