Lost in the foray over the debate to fully reopen the federal government — with or without funding for a proposed wall at the U.S. southern border — hundreds of thousands of federal workers, some working and some furloughed, are facing economic hardships.
These difficulties have received little attention from the president, the New York Times reported.
President Donald Trump has not publicly mentioned at all the more than 800,000 federal employees who aren’t getting paid as a result of the present government shutdown. Thirteen days in, these workers are likely to not get paid until the middle of January — or later, depending on when a deal on the partial shutdown can be made.
Trump has instead focused his talks on the need for national security, his main rationale for pushing for a border wall, and deciding to enter the nation into a shutdown in the first place.
Perhaps ironically, however, tens of thousands of workers who aren’t getting paid are individuals who work in security-based jobs for the government, including Transportation Security Administration workers, correctional officers, and more. Even a group Trump has touted during the shutdown, Customs and Border Protection employees, aren’t receiving a paycheck at this time, reports Homeland Security Today.
Trump gave a massive tax cut to the wealthy and now freezes the pay of middle class federal workers (many of whom are not getting paid at all during the Trump Shutdown). This shows who he really cares about/who he’s fighting for. https://t.co/tC9GwbyOD1— Eric Holder (@EricHolder) December 30, 2018
Trump has made one mention of workers not getting paid, but in an indirect manner and as a means of attacking his political opponents. “Do the Dems realize that most of the people not getting paid are Democrats?” he wrote in a tweet in late December.
Trump’s actions buck the trend that previous presidents have engaged in when it comes to noting the financial difficulties faced by government workers during shutdowns. Former President Ronald Reagan reached out to workers during a 1981 shutdown, telling them he acknowledged their “temporary hardship” during that time. Former President Barack Obama also made note of how unfair a 2013 shutdown was to workers, writing them a letter and telling them their families were “at the front of my mind.”
It’s unclear what will happen to workers’ pay in the days after the shutdown ends. In the past, workers have received back-pay for their work if they weren’t furloughed during funding crises, but Congress and the president aren’t required to do so by law.
The uncertainty has led to hundreds of government workers to file for unemployment status, which the Office of Personnel Management actually encourages on their website, according to reporting from the Washington Post.
If workers don’t get paid or are presently furloughed and qualify for unemployment, they do not need to pay the government back once the shutdown is ended; if workers do receive back-pay after the shutdown ends, they must return their unemployment funds.