LOS ANGELES — California Gov. Gavin Newsom pledged the state will provide unemployment insurance benefits for furloughed workers impacted by the partial federal government shutdown.
“Let the word go forth: we’ll cover you, we’ll have your back,” the Democrat said in remarks at a press conference where he also unveiled his first state budget. “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.”
The website for the state’s Employment Development Department, or EDD, contained an online notice as of Thursday evening about some federal workers qualifying for unemployment benefits. It said furloughed federal workers in California who are “in a non-pay, non-duty status” may qualify for benefits, but added that those workers must repay any jobless benefits received when or if wages are paid to them retroactively.
Nationwide, there are more than 800,000 federal workers affected by the shutdown, which went into its 21st day Friday. If the shutdown goes into this weekend, it become the longest in U.S. history, surpassing the shutdown of 1995-96.
The current closure, 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 refused to sign any government funding measures without money for the barrier, while Democratic congressional leaders have steadfastly refused to allocate taxpayer dollars to pay for it. Trump has repeatedly said Mexico would pay for the wall.
Newsom, who was sworn in Monday as the state’s 40th governor, has been critical of the president’s wall plan and on the administration’s hard-line policies on immigration.
Meantime, Newsom also was critical again of Trump for his tweet Wednesday that threatened to pull federal relief aid to California for wildfires.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, the governor recalled traveling with Trump when the Republican president visited the state in November to see destruction from the Camp Fire in the Northern California town of Paradise.
“I was in the car with the president when a lot of folks were celebrating his arrival,” Newsom recalled. “A lot of people had ‘Make American Great [Again]’ hats on and had flags signs saying ‘Trump 2020.’ I hope he remembers those images when he considers the next series of tweets.”
The catastrophic Camp Fire in Butte County destroyed nearly 19,000 buildings and claimed the lives of at least 86 people.
Butte is a Republican-leaning county where Trump edged out Democratic rival Hillary Clinton by more than 3 percentage points in 2016. Newsom lost the county in November by more than 6 percentage points to his GOP rival, John Cox — a San Diego businessman Trump had endorsed.