GOP lawmaker: Risk of work without pay is what government workers signed up for

 
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight Winners and losers in the border security deal GOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration MORE (R-N.C.) said Thursday that government workers should expect to work without pay from time to time as Congress scrambled to avoid a partial shutdown.
 
Asked if Republicans are comfortable shutting down the government — a move which would force thousands of federal employees to work without pay, including Secret Service, Transit Security and Border Patrol agents — Meadows said that risk is simply part of the job. 
 
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"It’s actually part of what you do when you sign up for any public service position,” Meadows told reporters in the Capitol.  
 
“It’s not lost on me in terms of the potential hardship,” he continued. “At the same time, they know that they would be required to work."
 
The fight over the government shutdown took a sharp turn Thursday morning, when House conservatives in the Freedom Caucus and beyond revolted against the Senate-passed spending bill, which did not include $5 billion in border wall funding previously demanded by President TrumpDonald John TrumpRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports Allies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump States file lawsuit seeking to block Trump's national emergency declaration MORE.
 
The rebellion sent Republican leaders scrambling for a plan B. After huddling with Trump at the White House, Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanUnscripted Trump keeps audience guessing in Rose Garden Coulter defends Paul Ryan: This is 100 percent Trump's fault The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Trump escalates border fight with emergency declaration MORE (R-Wis.) said Republicans would add two provisions to the Senate bill: $5 billion for the border wall and $8.7 billion for disaster aid. 
 
The border wall funding is a non-starter with Democrats, and it’s unclear if Republicans can pass it through the House on their own. The bill is dead on arrival in the Senate, in any event, but conservatives say they’re forcing the fight to appease constituents clamoring for the wall funding. 
 
“The unified conference this morning was because they heard from people back home who said, ‘You can’t just fold and go home and allow the Senate to dictate what the House is doing,’” Meadows said. 
 
A failure to reach a deal would cause roughly a quarter of the federal government to shutter at midnight on Friday. But some of the affected employees would still be required to work throughout a potential shutdown. In such cases, Congress typically provides backpay. But Democrats are warning that the timing of the debate, coming just before Christmas, would be particularly cruel, especially for families that live paycheck to paycheck.
 
Lawmakers, by contrast, would be paid during a shutdown, since 2019 spending for that portion of the federal budget was already signed into law. 
 
Democrats have pointed to the midterm election results, which delivered them the House majority, as evidence that voters don’t want Congress to pursue Trump’s border-security strategy. 
 
But Meadows rejected that idea outright. 
 
“I don’t know that you can say [that] because we lose in a midterm, that they’ve rejected the message,” he said. “Many people who lost in the midterm were not necessarily strong on the border.”
 
Meadows frequently demands offsets for new government spending, to avoid piling on to the skyrocketing federal debt. But for the wall he said he’ll make an exception. 
 
“That is such a minor part of this negotiation that it has not even come up,” he said. “The herculean task of getting $5 billion for the wall is one that, quite frankly, makes offsets a very small footprint on this particular argument.”
 
Meadows said he plans to be in Washington fighting for the wall every day necessary — “except for Christmas Day.”