AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - It’s not uncommon to see a line of people waiting to get into Hopdoddy on South Congress but Wednesday many of those who turned out were federal workers.
Some took a moment to speak to FOX 7 and had this to say about life during the shutdown.
"Not really being able to go anywhere, do anything because you haven't received a paycheck in so long, it’s nice to get out of the house. The group was at the popular food chain because free lunch was being provided at all its locations for federal employees,” said Pam - a federal worker who did not want to give her last name.
The free meal was just for one day but the offer was something a federal worker by the name of Layne didn’t want to miss out on. "It’s really nice they are uplifting everybody's spirits and helping out."
While lunch was appreciated, the federal workers had this to say about the Washington politicians who put them on furlough. "At this point it doesn't matter who is to blame,” said Pam.
Layne also didn’t want to get into a blame game, but urged both political parties to find a resolution. "They need to come together be adults about it and work through their differences."
Others at the resultant simply said their message to Congress was, "end it."
Wednesday, Senator John Cornyn indicated he understood what the workers were saying, but made it clear he doesn’t think others on the Hill are listening. "Unfortunately this has devolved into a game of political point scoring,” said Senator Cornyn.
Cornyn, who was in Austin to discuss ways to prevent online child exploitation, noted another group of children known as Dreamers may be a key to ending the government shutdown. "I’m prepared to engage in that negotiation, I’ve always felt the DACA recipients the 1.8 million young adults who came here as children with their parents are the most sympathetic,” said Senator Cornyn.
The issue could provide Democrats with leverage, helping Dreamers and providing a compromise. Congressman Lloyd Doggett acknowledged that was a possibility. "If he (President Trump) wants to provide some permanent relief to the dreamers I think that would be an excellent thing to do, I really wish we would be able to get to the bottom of the broader immigration issues."
But the Austin Democrat also pointed out that Trumps original pitch, to provide an extension for those in DACA, wasn’t workable. The main problem for Congressman Doggett remains a lack of trust.
"Well I think we have someone that is just so erratic so undependable, it’s very difficult to get to common ground,” said Doggett who added his idea of compromise is coming together with some common ground after they reopen the government.
Senator Ted Cruz, who was in Austin for a school choice rally, was asked about the President’s offer to extend the status for Dreamers. "I'm still reviewing the Bill its about 1300 pages, so I'm going to assess it on its merits,” said Senator Cruz.
The Republican Senator from Texas did express frustration about how Democrats have flip-flopped on border security. "So even though virtually every democrat has already voted for a secure barrier at the border they refuse to vote for it again because their base hates Donald Trump, that's not a good reason to shut the government down."
Federal workers -remain caught in the middle.
As of now, the only thing they can be thankful for, other than a Wednesday free burger, is an opportunity to collect an unemployment check. "For me personally it was lifesaving, I already live pay check to paycheck. So without unemployment I might lose my house,” said Pam.
The Hopdoddy meal deal becomes a 25% discount for the remainder of the shutdown, according to a company spokesperson. As for financial help, the Government Employees Federal Credit Union is offering low interest loans to replace monthly salaries.
The credit union is also giving deferrals on current loans.