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Newsom Extends Lifeline to Furloughed Federal Workers in California

5:33 PM PST on January 11, 2019

    Newsom with then-fiancée Jennifer Siebel at the 2008 San Francisco Pride parade. Photo by Franco Folini.

    [dropcap size=big]F[/dropcap]ederal workers furloughed in California because of the partial U.S. government shutdown can right away apply for state unemployment benefits, although they will have to repay the money if they recover their lost pay, Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a press conference Thursday.

    “Let the word go forth: We'll cover you, we'll have your back,” Newsom said on Thursday at a press conference. “Come in, we already have EDD on alert that we want to bring those 144,000 folks that may be impacted and let them know that they should be able to pay their rent, come the end of Friday.”

    He made the promise during his presentation of his first state budget plans at the same press conference.

    The Employment Development Department also notified the public of the extension of unemployment benefits on its website. It said, “During a government shutdown, employees who are not required to work are ‘furloughed’ or placed in a non-pay, non-duty status until the shutdown ends. Federal government employees in California impacted by the shutdown may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits.”

    There are about 800,000 federal workers affected by the shutdown, which went into its 21st day on Friday. If the shutdown continues through Saturday, then it will become the longest in U.S. history, surpassing the government shutdown from Dec. 16, 1995 to Jan. 6, 1996 during the Clinton administration.

    RELATED: California to Battle Trump Over Citizenship Census Question

    Gavin Newsom at a Jerry Brown campaign event, 2010. Photo via Wikicommons.
    Gavin Newsom at a Jerry Brown campaign event, 2010. Photo via Wikicommons.

    The standoff, which affects about a quarter of the government and several crucial departments and services, is over President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall. The president has said he would veto any government funding measure if it doesn’t also have money to build a wall the U.S.-Mexico border.

    Gavin Newsom was sworn in as California’s 40th governor only days ago, and has already come out swinging against Trump’s wall plan, his hardline policies on immigration.

    Newsom singled Trump’s tweet on Wednesday in which he threatened to pull deferral relief aid to victims of California’s lethal wildfires.

    “Disasters and recovery are no time for politics. I’m already taking action to modernize and manage our forests and emergency responses,” the governor tweeted on Wednesday in response to Trump’s tweet. “The people of CA – folks in Paradise – should not be victims to partisan bickering.”

    The catastrophic Camp Fire in Butte County destroyed nearly 19,000 buildings and claimed the lives of at least 86 people.

    Butte County is Republican-leaning. Trump edged out Democratic rival Hillary Clinton by more than 3 percentage points in 2016. Newsom lost the county in the gubernatorial election in November by more than 6 points to Republican John Cox, who Trump had endorsed.

    RELATED: A Harrowing Look Inside the Migrant Refugee Camp on the Border in Tijuana

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