The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Rep. Meadows tells federal employees who won’t get paid during shutdown: You signed up for this

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) speaks to reporters. (Al Drago/Bloomberg News)

To the hundreds of thousands of federal employees who will work without pay or be furloughed over the holidays if there is a government shutdown, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) says it is just part of the risk of working in public service.

Meadows, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus and a leading conservative voice urging President Trump not to accept a short-term spending bill absent funding for a border wall, was responding to reporters who asked about Transportation Security Administration and Border Patrol agents who would be required to continue working on Christmas without getting a paycheck.

“It’s actually part of what you do when you sign up for any public service position," Meadows said. "And 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.”

This is probably news to the 6,200 or so federal employees who live in Meadows’s North Carolina district.

Rep. Ryan Costello (R-Pa.), who decided not to seek re-election this year and has been increasingly critical of Trump, blasted Meadow’s comments in a tweet:

Meadows also justified the shutdown by saying Border Patrol agents support Trump holding out for border wall money.

It is difficult to say whether all border agents feel that way, but it is true that Brandon Judd, the president of the National Border Patrol Council, told The Washington Post on Monday that his group would “support the president 100 percent if he were to force the government to shut down over wall funding.”

Meadows, whose name had been floated for Trump’s chief of staff, was at the White House on Thursday afternoon to convince the president that conceding on the wall would be terrible for his relationship with his base.

On the other hand, if the government does shut down, Meadows, unlike more than 800,000 federal workers, would still receive his pay on time. In past years, lawmakers in the Senate and the House have introduced “No Budget, No Pay" legislation, which would withhold lawmakers' salary if they didn’t get a budget resolution and all 12 appropriations bills finished on time.

It passed once in 2013 as part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling, but it only applied for one year and wasn’t brought for a vote in subsequent years.

President Trump on Dec. 20 spoke about his rejection of a funding bill to avoid a government shutdown, saying that the measure needs to enhance border security. (Video: The Washington Post)

(Correction: Congress passed“No Budget, No Pay” once.)