At present, the federal government remains partially shutdown as President Donald Trump continues to refuse to approve any funding if it doesn’t include provisions for his border wall. He’s not known for compromise — but he is known for elevating himself and his inner circle, and this week as a curious side effect of his resoluteness some of his administration’s top political appointees will be set for pay raises of up to $10,000 a year.
This development is unfolding as hundreds of thousands of government workers remain indefinitely out of the job, and hundreds of thousands more have been expected to still report for duty without any promise of pay.
The impending pay raise is a side effect of the shutdown that’s left these workers out in the cold, because Congress has failed to renew the years-long pay freezes covering these political appointees along with everything else they’ve failed to enact. The covered individuals include under secretaries, deputy directors, Cabinet secretaries, and even the vice president. Should Congress leave the pay freezes lapsed through January 5, Vice President Mike Pence’s pay will jump from $230,700 to $243,500 a year, and the shift would be reflected in checks issued next week.
Democrats have come down hard on the impending pay raises. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) called them “outrageous,” and House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.) commented similarly, exclaiming:
‘At a time when more than 800,000 federal employees aren’t getting paid, it is absolutely outrageous that the Trump administration would even consider taking advantage of the shutdown to dole out huge raises to the vice president and its political appointees.’
These kickbacks would arrive while the government continues to struggle to find any light at the end of a tunnel that has about 380,000 federal workers indefinitely furloughed and about 420,000 working without pay, including key personnel like the members of the Coast Guard.
This week, once they assumed their position as the new House Majority, House Democrats passed a package to reopen the government — and renew the caps on senior administration officials’ pay — but it did not include any provisions for Trump’s border wall, and he has insisted that he will not sign any such bill. Concurrently, the package isn’t likely to even come up for a vote in the Senate, meeting a fate similar to that of a funding package that did include provisions for the border wall which the Republican-led House passed in its final weeks.
Just this Friday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that Trump expressed willingness to have the government remain closed for months or even years if he doesn’t get what he wants for his border wall — which makes no sense if the crisis at the southern border is as bad as he claims (it’s not). Shouldn’t he want to overcome political barriers in order to use what mechanisms are available to him as president to address the overwhelming issues he claims are knocking on America’s door?
Apparently he doesn’t, and as the days drag on and no armies of immigrants start shooting at Border Patrol agents and taking control of cities, his stance reeks more and more of politics.
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