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Federal Workers Say Debt Ceiling Increase Is Not Enough

CAPITOL HILL, DC (WUSA9) -- Hundreds of thousands of federal workers are looking for more than just an increase in the debt ceiling.

They want the government restarted.

These are all people who are going to be missing paychecks in the next few days... No pay for them whether working or furloughed.

"Put us back to work. Put us back to work. Put us back to work." hundreds of unionized federal workerschanted at the Capitol in a driving rain. Led by their Democratic allies, theyare pushing the Republican Speaker to bring a clean spending bill to the House floor.

"We cannot stop the rain, but John Boehner can stop the shutdown," Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the minority leader told them.

"Open up the government, Mr Speaker, give us a vote Mr Speaker, give us a vote," said Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca).

The GOP-led House has already unanimously passed a bill to guarantee federal workers their back pay, but it is now stalled in the Senate, where some Republicans say the time may not be right.

Like a lot of Americans, many of these federal workers are living paycheck to paycheck. Carlos Rivero cleans equipment an an Army depot in Pennsylvania. "Could lose my car, be put out on the street," Rivero says. "We have a one year old daughter and a baby on the way. What's going to happen if we don't have an income?" asks his wife, tears in her eyes.

Linh Quahn is still working at Social Security... but she isn't getting paid for it during the shutdown. "Mortgage, car payment, student loan, credit cards," she says, ticking through the bills that are still rolling in.

And then there are government contractors, who may never get paid back for their furlough time. "Can you afford to not have a paycheck for however long this goes on?" I asked Frederick Turner, who works for a contractor in therestaurant at the shuttered Smithsonian Museum of American History."No I got too many bills. I've got family to take care of..."

And for a lot of federal workers, there is also the public to take care of... Dan Ronneberg is one of 3,000 furloughed aviation safety inspectors. "We're not making sure pilots and flight attendants are getting proper rest. Not making sure weight and balance is correct. Airplanes are de-iced properly."

Some 26,000 laid-off federal workers have already applied for unemployment benefits in the District -- and if the shutdown continues, that number is almost certain to climb.