VP Pence, Senior Cabinet Officials Get A Raise During Gov’t. Shutdown (Video)

800,000 Americans currently have no idea when they are going to see their next paychecks while Vice President Mike Pence, the president’s cabinet, and senior administration officials are receiving $10,000 raises.

Donald Trump’s border wall government shutdown has now surpassed the two-week mark.

Just before the new year–amid the shutdown–the president decided to order a freeze on federal employees’ salaries.

This past Friday, Trump threatened to drag the shutdown out for “months or years” as long as lawmakers refuse to give him five billion dollars of taxpayer money for a wall along the southern US border with Mexico.

But again, Vice President Mike Pence, the president’s cabinet, and senior administration officials are receiving $10,000 raises.

Why?

Ironically, because of the shutdown.

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan refused to present to the House of Representatives funding bills for the affected multiple agencies. In these bills were pay freezes first enacted in 2013, renewed every year. Since the bills never made it to the House floor, the pay freezes expired.

Moreover, not only will Pence et al. get raises; they will get five years’ worth starting next week.

Had the dead-on-arrival bills been passed, cabinet secretaries, for example, would have seen an annual salary bump from $199,700 to $210,700; deputy secretaries, from $179,700 to $189,600.

VP Pence, however, will go from $230,700 to $243,500.

Meanwhile, in and around America’s national parks garbage is piling up.

ATV riders off-road illegally.

Restrooms are going unattended.

Human waste is piling up along the road in Yosemite.

Rocky Mountain National Park remains inaccessible because of unplowed snow.

Seven national parks tourists have died.

Damage to the parks will last years.

Couples hoping to obtain marriage licenses in Washington, DC will have to wait.

Immigration courts will continue being delayed; those not in detention anticipating hearings “will be reset for a later date after funding resumes.”

NASA contractor John Deal told The Guardian he and his wife, also a NASA employee, have lost 100% of their household income since the shutdown began, adding:

“I budget ahead of time for Christmas and have saved for my son’s college tuition that will be due soon. So the burden of the shutdown for my family is more [of a] concern for my [family’s] living expense in the near future. Paying my mortgage, groceries & truck payment, etc. We’re blue-collar workers. We’re not making six-figure salaries like Mr. Trump or Mr. Pence.” 

The Office of Personnel Management, the agency that oversees federal workers, last week actually mailed employees sample letters with suggestions about how to negotiate lower rent during the furlough period.

For example:

“As we discussed, I am a federal employee who has recently been furloughed due to a lack of funding of my agency. Because of this, my income has been severely cut and I am unable to pay the entire cost of my mortgage, along with my other expenses.”

Federal law enforcement agency employee, Colleen Regan, 31, has so little savings, she is living in a friend’s basement in Chicago.

She commented:

“I’m also a wounded veteran so I draw a pension and it’s enough to cover some of my bills but not all. Everyone says you should have managed your money better. It stinks.”

She added:

“I can survive on very little, but once the bills hit this month, the money’s going to be gone.”

Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) supervisor Angel Stephensen has been working for free the past two weeks.

She stated:

“My husband works [for TSA] as well, so our entire household income is stopped because of this. We are both essential, so we are required to report to work and do our jobs with no idea as to when our next paycheck will post. We do have some savings so we are better off than many that we work with, but the stress and anxiety of not knowing if we will get paid when we are supposed to is exhausting.”

Many TSA airport screeners have decided to call out sick instead of report to work for no pay.

All this and more will cost the American taxpayers millions once Trump decides to eventually agree to get the government up and running again.

Perhaps we shouldn’t have handed $1.5 trillion in permanent tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations.

We could sure use that money now.

Maybe we could ask the Vice President and senior cabinet officials for a handout.

Image credit: Flickr

Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been in featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to Op-Ed News, Liberal Nation Rising, and Zoedune.