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GOP senator: Not 'palatable' for many federal workers to take out loans during shutdown

Sen. Mike RoundsMike RoundsIndigenous groups post billboards urging senators to confirm Deb Haaland Powell pushes back on GOP inflation fears Overnight Health Care: US surpasses half a million COVID deaths | House panel advances Biden's .9T COVID-19 aid bill | Johnson & Johnson ready to provide doses for 20M Americans by end of March MORE (R-S.D.) said Thursday that it's not "palatable" for many federal workers to take out loans for financial assistance during the ongoing partial government shutdown.

Rounds was asked on CNN about comments by Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossFormer Trump officials find tough job market On The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits MORE, who said earlier in the day that he didn't understand why some federal workers were resorting to food banks when they could take out guaranteed loans.

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"I think what he’s suggesting is an alternative, but it's not one that’s palatable to a whole lot of people," Rounds said. "And it does suggest that maybe we’re not understanding how serious this is, not just to government workers but to contractors and also to the people that they offer services to."

"It’s not like these individuals aren’t providing services to the rest of the American public," Rounds added, noting that Americans rely on services from agencies such as the Coast Guard and Agriculture Department that are without funding during the shutdown.

Rounds suggested that members of Congress should not be paid or be eligible for back pay if the government shuts down in the future.

Ross, who is reportedly worth $700 million, stirred controversy by downplaying the economic impact of 800,000 federal employees being furloughed or working without pay during the shutdown, which was sparked by an impasse over President TrumpDonald TrumpSacha Baron Cohen calls out 'danger of lies, hate and conspiracies' in Golden Globes speech Sorkin uses Abbie Hoffman quote to condemn Capitol violence: Democracy is 'something you do' Ex-Trump aide Pierson planning run for Congress MORE's demand for border wall funding and has lasted 34 days and counting.

He added that he didn't "really quite understand why" a number of those going without pay have gone to food banks or shelters in recent weeks.

"The 30 days of pay that some people will be out, there’s no real reason why they shouldn’t be able to get a loan against it, and we’ve seen a number of ads of financial institutions doing that," Ross said. 

Hundreds of banks and credit unions have offered low- or no-interest loans against back pay to federal workers who will not be paid until the shutdown ends. Furloughed contractors, however, may not receive any back pay once the shutdown ends. 

If the shutdown stretches into next week, federal workers will miss a second paycheck.

The Senate is set to vote Thursday on a pair of measures that could end the shutdown, though neither is expected to receive the 60 votes needed to pass.