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Feds Working Without Pay are ‘Volunteering’ Out of Love For President Trump, Kudlow Says

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WASHINGTON, January 24, 2019 — The roughly half a million federal employees who’ve been working without a paycheck since December are doing so out of their presumed “allegiance to President Trump,” National Economic Council Chairman Larry Kudlow said Thursday.

Speaking to reporters in the White House briefing room, Kudlow was addressing remarks made Friday by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, in which the multi-millionaire suggested that furloughed federal workers who haven’t been paid for a month could take out loans instead of going to food banks to feed their families.

Asked whether Ross’ remarks indicated that the Trump administration is out of touch with everyday American’s needs, Kudlow replied: “Am I out of touch? I don’t think I’m out of touch, I’m addressing the problem. I’ve met with my individual staff members, and God bless ‘em, they’re working for free, they’re volunteering. But they do it because they believe government service is honorable and they believe in President Trump and they’re working as hard as ever.”

When BeltwayBreakfast informed Kudlow that being required to work without pay under the threat of termination is not, in fact, volunteering, Kudlow replied that he had been “very clear.”

According to Washington-based attorney Brad Moss, federal workers are legally prohibited from volunteering under the Anti-Deficiency Act, an 1883 law which prohibits the federal government from entering into a contract that is not “fully funded.”

The Office of Personnel Management guidance sent to furloughed employees makes it clear that volunteering is not an option during a shutdown: “Unless otherwise authorized by law, an agency may not accept the voluntary services of an employee.”

In a statement to BeltwayBreakfast, Senator Mark Warner, D-Va., suggested Kudlow and his colleagues in the Trump administration would benefit from meeting with some of the workers who’ve been deprived of paychecks for the past 34 days.

“If Mr. Kudlow, Mr. Ross or literally anyone in this Administration would actually meet with federal workers and listen to their stories, they’d know how insulting these kinds of comments are,” Warner said.

This story was updated at 4:40pm to include a statement from Sen. Mark Warner.

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Andrew Feinberg is the Managing Editor and lead Washington Correspondent for Breakfast Media, and covers the White House, Capitol Hill, courts and regulatory agencies for BeltwayBreakfast and BroadbandBreakfast.com. He has written about policy and politics in the nation's capital since 2007.

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