President TrumpDonald TrumpJudge rules Alaska governor unlawfully fired lawyer who criticized Trump Giuliani led fake electors plot: CNN Giuliani associate sentenced to a year in prison in campaign finance case 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."
Q: "That's not volunteering if you're being forced to work without pay. If you don't show up you lose your job. That's not volunteering…"— CSPAN (@cspan) January 24, 2019
Larry Kudlow: "I'm not even going to go there. You know what I'm saying. It's very clear..." pic.twitter.com/w1CNOmafBZ
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.
"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.