(CNN/WJZ) — White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said furloughed federal workers who are not getting paid during the partial government shutdown are “better off” because they didn’t have to use vacation days.
“Huge share of government workers were going to take vacation days, say between Christmas and New Year’s. And 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,” Hassett told PBS during an appearance on “NewsHour.”
Roughly 420,000 federal employees were deemed essential and are working unpaid. An additional 380,000 are staying home without pay. While furloughed federal workers have been given back pay in previous shutdowns, it’s not guaranteed that will happen this time.
In Maryland, there are roughly 147,000 federal workers — 26,000 of whom have been furloughed.
On Saturday, the ongoing partial government shutdown broke the record to become the longest government shutdown in US history — with no end in sight. The shutdown has impacted roughly a quarter of the federal government and hundreds of thousands of federal workers. An estimated 800,000 federal workers have been affected by the lapse in funding — either by having to work without pay while it lasts or by being furloughed.
“And then they come back and then they get their back pay, then they’re, in some sense they’re better off,” Hassett said.
Last week, Congress passed legislation sponsored by Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland to guarantee back pay for federal workers who have been furloughed during the government shutdown. But federal employees — those on furlough and those who have remained on the job — still won’t be paid until the shutdown ends.
President Donald Trump and lawmakers are still locked in a standoff over the President’s demand that Congress allocate $5.7 billion to build a wall at the US-Mexico border. Trump has said he is considering declaring a national emergency to get the money but would prefer to strike a deal with Congress.
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