WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Furloughed workers are “better off” because they didn’t have to use their vacation days over the holidays, White House chief economic adviser Kevin Hassett said this week.
- On Friday, hundreds of thousands of government workers missed the first paycheck of the year with many of them still required to go to work during the shutdown.
- President Donald Trump has refused to reopen the government unless Congress allocates $5.7 billion for his wall along the southern border.
Kevin Hassett, the White House’s chief economic adviser, compared the ongoing partial government shutdown, now the longest in US history, to an extended vacation. He added that the almost 800,000 unpaid workers are “better off” because they didn’t have to use their vacation days over the holidays.
“A huge share of government workers were going to take vacation days, say, between Christmas and New Year’s, then we have a shutdown, and so they can’t go to work, and so then they have the vacation, but they don’t have to use their vacation days,” he said in a “PBS Newshour” interview on Thursday.
“And then they come back, and then they get their back pay,” Hassett continued. “In some sense, they’re better off.”
Hassett confirmed the shutdown has cost the economy around $20 billion through Friday but later said that it will have no significant, long-term consequences.
The shutdown began on Dec. 22 when Congress denied President Donald Trump of the budget for his border wall. Now, Trump has refused to reopen the government unless Congress gives him what he wants — around $5.7 billion for a wall along the southern border.
On Friday, hundreds of thousands of government workers missed their first paycheck of 2019, even many of them were still required to go to work during the partial shutdown. Last week, Congress approved a bill granting back pay to those workers and others who were furloughed. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) suggested that the president will sign it when it reaches his desk.
Republicans are worried that the impasse is hurting the party’s reputation, thus urging Trump on Sunday to temporarily reopen the government.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a known Trump supporter, urged Trump on Sunday to temporarily reopen the government while negotiations continued, trying to talk him off plans to declare a national emergency so he can bypass Congress and get his wall.
“I would urge him to open up the government for a short period of time,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a “Fox News Sunday” interview. “See if we can get a deal. If we can’t at the end of three weeks, all bets are off. See if he can do it by himself through the emergency powers.”