President Donald Trump claimed that the hundreds of thousands of federal workers out of a job or working on furloughed pay support his shutdown because they back his proposed border wall.
“They understand what’s happening. They want border security,” Trump told reporters Tuesday at the Oval Office.
Nine of 15 federal departments and dozens of agencies were shuttered after Trump refused to sign a spending bill that did not include funding for the proposed border wall. The Senate had passed a spending bill unanimously prior to Trump’s refusal.
“Many of those workers have said to me, communicated, ‘stay out until you get the funding for the wall,”’ Trump said Tuesday. “These federal workers want the wall.”
“I can’t tell you when the government’s gonna be open,” he added. “I can tell you it’s not gonna be open until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they’d like to call it.”
Trump canceled his trip to Mar-a-Lago while the stalled negotiations continue.
“I’d rather not be doing shutdowns. I’ve been at the White House. And I love the White House. But I wasn’t able to be with my family. I thought it would be wrong for me to be with my family,” Trump said. “I just didn’t want to to go down and be there when other people are hurting.”
“It’s a disgrace what’s happening in our country,” he later added. “But other than that, I wish everybody a very Merry Christmas.”
Federal employees share shutdown nightmare stories:
Despite Trump’s claim, federal workers shared their personal stories on Twitter about how the Christmas time government shut down has affected them.
“I am a single mother of 3 with no help. Not knowing if I can pay rent or feed my family next week is hard and all that’s on my mind this day of Christmas when I should be happy. My kids feel my anxiety too,” one worker wrote.
“I’ve been a loyal, dedicated federal employee for almost 30 years,” another woman wrote. “I [love] my work. I may have to terminate my husband’s caregiver because it’s so expensive, it’ll rip through any savings we have very quickly. I’m besides myself with worry this Christmas.”
Families of federal workers weighed in too.
“My husband is active duty Coast Guard,” one woman wrote. “Everyone thinks the military is getting paid during the shutdown, but the Coast Guard is facing no pay on the 1st due to being DHS and not DoD. We live in NYC, pay over $2K/month in rent, have a toddler and one on the way.”