Congressman to Feds: Shutdowns Are Just 'Part Of' Your Job

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., heads into a Republican strategy meeting on Thursday. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., heads into a Republican strategy meeting on Thursday. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

As a partial shutdown approaches that would affect hundreds of thousands of federal workers, the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus said that public servants should have known this was part of their jobs when they were hired.

According to The Washington Post, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., was asked about the impact of a shutdown on the Border Patrol agents and Transportation Security Administration screeners who would be required to keep working over Christmas without a paycheck.

"It’s actually part of what you do when you sign up for any public service position," Meadows reportedly said Thursday. "It’s not lost on me in terms of, you know, the potential hardship. At the same time, they know they would be required to work and even in preparation for a potential shutdown those groups within the agencies have been instructed to show up.”

Meadows took fire for those comments on social media. One of his departing colleagues in the House, Rep. Ryan Costello, R-Pa., in a tweet tied Meadows's comments to concerns about hiring in the federal government.

Others noted that Meadows's job was to govern. 

Meadows did announce on Thursday night in a letter to the House Chief Administrative Officer that he also posted on Twitter that he would not be accepting a salary as long as the shutdown lasts.

According to a Thursday Politico report, Meadows was a leading voice in pushing President Trump to stand firm on funding for his border wall.

The North Carolina Republican has not always taken such a harsh tone with federal employees. The chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations embarked on a listening tour of federal agencies in 2015. During a December event that year on the Best Places to Work in the government, he said: “I close with a heartfelt thank you on behalf of Congress, and all of those who never tell you in the way that they should, that they appreciate the federal workforce. I close also with an apology for the times when you have been used as the person who is to be blamed for the inefficiencies, or the way that we should be doing business and are not.”

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Another member of Congress, Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., also weighed in on the shutdown and feds' finances on Thursday, comparing the plight of furloughed workers to that of those in the private sector, in a conversation relayed by Politico's Sarah Ferris on Twitter.

Perry's comments were also met with criticism on Twitter, including by one self-identified GS-13.

Another noted:

The Republican comments also received pushback from other lawmakers. “ ‘They’re just federal employees,’ that’s all the Republicans think," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. “I just don’t see it that way. It’s totally unnecessary. And to think they’re going to send TSA employees and [Homeland Security Department] employees into law enforcement protection and say, ‘Someday you’ll get paid,’ over Christmas? It’s unnecessary and it’s insulting to these men and women.”

Eric Katz contributed to this story

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