Kudlow: Federal workers impacted by shutdown are ‘volunteering’ in part due to ‘allegiance’ to Trump

Kudlow: Federal workers impacted by shutdown are ‘volunteering’ in part due to ‘allegiance’ to Trump
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' MORE's top economic advisor on Thursday said federal employees were "volunteering" to work amid the partial government shutdown in part because of their "allegiance to President Trump."

"They honor us and they do it because of their love for their country and the office of the presidency and presumably their allegiance to President Trump," National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said while speaking to reporters at the White House briefing room. "They’re doing it. Give them some credit. There are a lot of wonderful people in this country."

Talking Points Memo reported that Kudlow made the statement after previously praising federal workers for "working for free" during the shutdown. At least 800,000 federal workers — plus contractors — are either furloughed or working for free.

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"They’re volunteering," Kudlow reportedly said. "But they do it because they believe government service is honorable and they believe in Trump and they’re working as hard as ever.”

A reporter replied by questioning Kudlow's take on volunteering, saying that it's "not volunteering if you're being forced to work without pay."

Kudlow responded by accusing the journalist of trying to play a "semantic game." 

"I’m not going to even go there. You know what I’m saying," Kudlow said. "It’s very clear. With respect to people who do have financial hardships, they are coming to work and giving them the same 24/7 work they always did. And I will say to you whatever semantic game you think you’re going to play with me and I’m usually an easy going guy. Give them credit. They honor us. I don’t care whether you’re a Republican or Democrat. I mean that sincerely. They honor us."

The exchange came amid a government shutdown that is now into its 34th day, the longest shutdown in U.S. history.

The funding lapse was triggered on Dec. 22 after Congress failed to reach an agreement on a new spending bill. President Trump has demanded that more than $5 billion for a wall along the southern border be included in it, which Democrats oppose. 

The Senate on Thursday rejected two measures to end the shutdown, one with Trump's demanded wall funding and one without.