The longest government shutdown in history, which finally ended with Donald Trump signing a temporary deal he could have signed a month agao, lasted 35 days and affected over 800,000 furloughed federal employees. Yet many politicians, namely President Donald Trump, continue to struggle with the serious implications the shutdown meant for the working class.
Earlier this week Commerce Secretary, and millionaire, Wilbur Ross, questioned why federal workers who weren’t getting paid would need to utilize food banks. Ross suggested that workers borrow “from a bank or a credit union” because “the 30 days of pay that some people will be out is no real reason why they shouldn’t be able to get a loan against it.”
“True, the people might have to pay a little bit of interest,” Ross said. “But the idea that it’s ‘paycheck or zero’ is not a really valid idea.”
The Commerce Department, where Ross works, has an estimated 20,000 works that have not been paid since the shutdown began on December 22.
Ross, of course, came under heavy fire from the public and Democrats for his comments. When questioned about his statement, President Trump admitted that he hadn’t heard the statement but that groceries and banks know who the federal workers are and will “work along” with them:
“Local people know who they are, when they go for groceries and everything else,” Trump said of federal workers during a meeting on trade at the White House. “And I think… that they will work along. I know banks are working along. And that’s what happens in times like this. They know the people, they’ve been dealing with them for years, and they work along. The grocery stores…and I think that’s probably what Wilbur Ross meant.”
Donald Trump, defending Wilbur Ross, says government workers not receiving a paycheck because of the #TrumpShutdown can simply convince their local grocery stores to “work along” with them. pic.twitter.com/bIvu2CJxHb
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) January 24, 2019
At the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), where workers are required to work without pay during the shutdown, the number of workers calling in sick has increased, with as much as 10 percent of the workforce calling out.
The IRS employee union has said that its members may not return to work for tax season during the shutdown if they are experiencing financial hardship.
Although the shutdown spares military salaries, the Coast Guard, which falls under the Homeland Security Department, has its members working without pay. Even worse, the families of guardsmen who are currently deployed without pay won’t receive a death benefit if they’re killed in the line of duty during the shutdown.