With the deadline to avoid a federal government shutdown looming, some of the thousands of Maryland workers who could be furloughed said they were frustrated at the impasse Sunday.
U.S. Congress is deadlocked as Republicans in the House have sought to tie government spending bills to a measure that would put the new healthcare law on hold for a year. Without an agreement, agencies will furlough workers and cut back on services Tuesday.
With some members of his congregation worried they may be furloughed in the coming week, the Rev. Emmett C. Burns Jr. tried to speak words of comfort from the pulpit at the Rising Sun First Baptist Church not far from the Social Security Administration in Woodlawn.
"What kind of a nation are we living in? You don't tear down the house because you don't like what is going on inside the house," said Burns, a Democrat and Maryland General Assembly delegate. He said everyone at his church was in some way affected if there is a shutdown, even if their paychecks do not come directly from the federal government. "We got groceries to pay for. We got mortgages to pay for."
Helen Greene has a day care business near the Social Security Administration and said she worries the parents of some of the children she cares for might not be able to pay her. "I live a mile away. Some of my parents work there. I will probably lose some of my kids."
Another member of the congregation, Carolyn Harris, said she works for the U.S. Postal Service and wonders whether her job might be affected. Elaine Williams is not as much worried about her Social Security check arriving late as she is just angry about the possibility "that a small minority of people" have the ability to "shutdown a whole country."
In an interview, Burns said he is worried about deficit spending and does believe the country would be better off with "a leaner, meaner budget." A government shutdown, he said, won't hurt the wealthy. "It is always the poor people who suffer."
Rocky Twyman, a member at Rising Sun, said he will be going with a group called Pray at the Pump, to the White House Sunday night to pray that the leaders of both parties will come together to find a solution to the current stalemate. He said he hoped that President Obama would invite House Speaker John Boehner over to the White House for a prayer summit.