As Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi emerged from a face-to-face meeting with Donald Trump, they made it clear that any progress in dealing with him was limited to “a better understanding of positions.” When it comes to actually ending the government shutdown, it fell to Schumer to deliver the terms from the White House: Trump is willing to shut down the government for “months or years” until he gets what he wants.
Trump then appeared to confirm that he did say this. And that he is “prepared” to keep the government shut down as long as it takes to get what he wants.
Even just the threat of such a prolonged delay is likely to have a massive detrimental effect on the economy. What are the rules in a nation with a government in shutdown? Does Trump expect the Coast Guard to keep patrolling the nation’s waters for “months or years” without pay? Or, for that matter, without funds to buy fuel or feed crews?
Right now, 380,000 workers who would normally be at the business of keeping the nation together are sitting at home without pay. But another 420,000 are still on the job, working with no paycheck or benefits. That includes the people who would normally be enforcing Trump’s rules on the border.
Of the 20,000 employees of Trump’s favorite agency, ICE, 4,000 are at home. The other 16,000 were deemed “exempt” because they were considered to be part of law enforcement. But exempt doesn’t mean they are getting paid. It just means that they’re required to show up at the office even without a paycheck. That seems to be a situation that Trump is willing to indulge forever. Is Trump so set on getting his wall that he’ll leave thousands of DHS agents furloughed and the rest working for free? Because that’s where they are right now.
Asked about any safety net for federal workers, Trump said “the safety net is going to be having a strong border” and then said he really believes that federal workers “agree” with him and “they’re willing to give it up.” According to Trump, everyone in border patrol told him “don’t even think about us.” And it seems that he isn’t.
Trump also claimed that “absolutely” he could use emergency powers to build his wall without any permission or funding from Congress.
Asked again about how federal workers were supposed to make it months or years without pay, he again insisted that these workers are “the biggest fans” of what he is doing.