As the Washington Free Beacon notes, declaring the shutdown a "national emergency" would give federal workers some nice perks, including "free" health care and gasoline:
American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox sent a letter to Obama on Friday lamenting that the lengthy shutdown would hurt government workers. He proposed that the White House intervene to declare the shutdown a federal emergency, which would allow workers to collect zero-interest loans from FEMA and force businesses to extend lines of credit to employees.
“Mr. President, we ask that you … call upon the financial and business community to provide arrangements for skip mortgage payments, skip rent payments, skip car loan payments, skip education and other loan payments until this is all over [sic],” the letter states.
Cox also asks that federal workers receive free healthcare, gasoline, public transportation, and utilities until “their paychecks have been restored.”
Federal workers collected half-paychecks for their last pay period and will not be paid again until after the shutdown ends. House Republicans passed legislation that would allow workers to receive retroactive pay, which would provide workers with lump sum checks at the end of the shutdown.