As reported by the Washington Post, the current partial government shutdown, driven by Donald Trump’s demand for more than $5 billion in funding for a border wall, affects about 800,000 federal workers spread throughout all 50 states who are now going without paychecks until the shutdown is over — something that Trump has said may not happen for “months” or even “years,” as CNN reported.
Some of those workers are “furloughed,” that is, simply sent home without pay. Others in “essential” jobs must continue to work despite receiving no pay for the duration of the shutdown. Many of those workers are now reportedly unable to meet portage, rent, and other forms of bill payments that generally come due at the beginning of each month — though as Think Progress reported, Trump has said that he believes the workers will solve any financial problems arising from going with no paycheck during the shutdown, even claiming that, “most of those people, that really have not been and will not be getting their money in at this moment, those people in many cases are the biggest fan of what we’re doing.”
As he departed for a White House staff retreat at Camp David on Sunday morning, Trump was asked by NBC News reporter Kelly O’Donnell if he could “relate to the pain of federal workers who can’t pay their bills?” Trump — whose personal net worth is estimate by Forbes at $3.1 billion, and who has claimed a net worth as high at $10 billion — claimed that he could “relate” to those workers, as seen in the video below.
My question to the president, “Can you relate to the pain of federal workers who can’t pay their bills?” Pres. Trump:”I can relate…”. Watch: pic.twitter.com/WJCBHZQ15x
— Kelly O'Donnell (@KellyO) January 6, 2019
In his answer to O’Donnell, Trump reiterated his claim that “many” federal workers support the government shutdown, even though they will not be paid until it ends. But a survey conducted by the Government Business Council and released on New Year’s Eve showed that more than seven of every 10 federal workers, 71 percent, oppose the shutdown. Only 22 percent — or just over one in every five — support keeping the government closed until Trump’s border wall is funded.
The effects of government workers going without pay has been felt by businesses and professions outside of the government workers themselves. According to a National Public Radio report, “the government shutdown is also slowing down businesses that rely on federal workers during the day, like the restaurants and cafes where they eat lunch.”
The safety of air travel is also being adversely affected, according to a letter written to Trump by Captain Joe DePete, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, a union that represents 61,000 commercial airline pilots on such major carriers as Delta and United Airlines, according to Inc Magazine.
Air traffic controllers, as well as Transportation Security Administration workers, are currently on the job — but without paychecks.
“The pressure these civil servants are facing at home should not be ignored. At some point, these dedicated federal employees will encounter personal financial damages that will take a long time from which to recover, if at all,” DePete wrote in the ALPA letter to Trump.