Rep. Gallagher talks government shutdown at town hall meeting Monday

CHILTON, Wis. (WBAY) -- The longest government shutdown on record continued to grow Monday, going on day 31.

For the past four weeks, President Donald Trump and Democrats have gone back-and-forth, trying to come up with a deal to end the partial government shutdown.

Over the weekend, the president offered a short-term extension of protections for some immigrants in exchange for border wall funding. Democrats immediately said it was not a real offer.

As the back-and-forth continues, the feeling of desperation is growing among unpaid federal workers.

According to the TSA, 1 in 10 of its officers called out sick Sunday. The TSA said many workers are unable to work due to "financial limitations."

Despite the high rate of absences, the agency said airport wait times are normal.

Wisconsin Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-Green Bay) is one member of Congress who has asked his pay be withheld until a compromise has been made and the government is back open.

At a town hall meeting in Chilton Monday morning, Gallagher fielded questions about clean energy and the troubled dairy industry, saying he would like to open new milk markets abroad, but he knows all of these issues take a back seat while government shutdown negotiations continue to consume Washington, D.C.

“Take your pick at issues we are not addressing while we are burning calories on this,” said Gallagher. “I don't mean to be too cynical, but I think part of it is we are now in a presidential election season so there is less willingness on either side to be seen as compromising.”

Gallagher said he has talked President Trump, along with Democratic colleagues, and offered a solution.

"One compromise I offered was, let’s pay the Coast Guard and some other essential employees right now as a sign of good faith. I have sponsored bills to that effect, and hopefully that is something we can do this week,” said Gallagher.

Gallagher’s proposal won’t be the only one discussed soon. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he will put President Trump’s proposal of extending DACA protections in exchange for border wall funding on the floor this week.

"Offering some of those protections he took away back, in exchange for the wall is not a compromise but hostage taking,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Instead, top Democrats have their own counter proposal: a billion dollars for border security. Half would go to infrastructure, but nothing to build a wall.

Democrats also plan to vote on a bill that would provide financial relief to 800,000 federal workers working without pay, which Gallagher said should be the biggest motivator for everyone to work together.

“That’s more reason to get to the table, negotiate and end this and move onto the much bigger problems we face as a country,” said Gallagher.

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