President Trump has claimed repeatedly that most federal workers support his tactic of shutting down the government to enforce his demand for a border wall — including those directly affected by it. But a new poll of government employees shows that few actually do.
According to the survey conducted by the Government Business Council and GovExec.com and released Tuesday, 71 percent of federal workers oppose the shutdown, compared to just 21 percent that support it. Just 34 percent of federal employees surveyed support Trump’s demand for funding for the wall, while 56 percent oppose it. And of those workers against the wall, more than 80 percent say they are strongly opposed to it.
Amid the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, most federal workers say they oppose President Trump’s demand for border wall funding. (Photo: Leah Millis/Reuters)
Meanwhile, a pair of recent national polls show most Americans blame the president for the shutdown. According to a CNN survey released Monday, 56 percent of Americans oppose a border wall, while 39 percent favor one. And according to a PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released Wednesday, 54 percent say Trump is to blame for the impasse, while 31 percent put the blame on Democrats in Congress. (Five percent of those polled blame congressional Republicans.) And more than 70 percent believe shutting down the government in order to reach an agreement on policy is a bad strategy, compared to just 22 percent that do.
Among those who consider the strategy flawed: 35 percent of Republicans.
Trump is demanding Congress allocate $5.7 billion that would go toward construction of a physical barrier on the U.S. border with Mexico in exchange for reopening the government. Democrats are refusing to do so, and want the government reopened while negotiations continue.
President Trump tours the southern border in McAllen, Texas, on Jan. 10. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP)
The shutdown, now in its 26th day, is the longest in U.S. history. About 800,000 federal employees have been affected. Approximately half of those are continuing to work without pay, although they are likely to receive back pay after a budget is passed. The rest are furloughed.
For the first time ever, a funding impasse is affecting active-duty military personnel.
On Tuesday, U.S. Coast Guard Commander Adm. Karl Schultz advised more than 40,000 active duty members that they would not be receiving their regularly scheduled mid-month paycheck.
“To the best of my knowledge, this marks the first time in our Nation’s history that service members in a U.S. armed force have not been paid during a lapse in government appropriations,” Schultz wrote in a letter to them. “I recognize the anxiety and uncertainty this situation places on you and your family, and we are working closely with service organizations on your behalf.
Approximately 800,000 federal workers are being affected by the shutdown, with about half of that number furloughed and half forced to work without pay. That reality will hit home on Friday, when some workers will go without paychecks. The current shutdown is the second longest in history, tying the 21-day shutdown that ran from Dec. 16, 1995, to Jan. 6, 1996. President Trump has refused to agree to a stopgap spending deal to keep government open that doesn’t provide billions for construction of a border wall. Congressional Republicans, meanwhile, have declined to join with Democrats to pass a veto-overriding funding bill.
While some national parks have remained open during the shutdown, the diminished staff presence has resulted in vandalism, safety incidents and partial closures.
“There are one-of-a-kind historical and cultural resources here at this park and other parks that our government is failing to protect,” said John Lauretig, a former park ranger at Joshua Tree National Park in California.
Lauretig said the “economic ripple effect” of any park closing would be felt throughout the area, affecting guides who would normally be bringing people into the park and extending to the restaurants that would normally serve visitors. Federal officials were planning on closing the park but made a last-minute decision to keep it open despite damage to some of the namesake trees, Lauretig said.
Hundreds of federal workers and contractors rally against the partial federal government shutdown outside AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Both federal employees and the businesses they frequent are trying to adapt to the impasse on funding.
“I live in D.C., and the shutdown does seem to be having an impact on local businesses,” said Timothy Nicholson, an economist with the EPA. “Some restaurants seem to be taking a hit, a lot of them are trying to woo government employees with discounts and shutdown-themed cocktails, which is nice of them to do, but since most of us aren’t getting paid we’re not really able to take advantage, unfortunately.”
The effects of the shutdown are far-reaching: Some residents of government housing may lose their homes and 38 million people on food stamps could be affected if the government doesn’t reopen. Hundreds of TSA screeners at major airports are calling out sick leaving long lines while thousands of FBI agents have said the shutdown threatens national security.