In the final hours of the longest government shutdown in history, President Donald Trump’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said he didn’t “really quite understand why” some federal workers were turning to services like food banks to survive after two missed paychecks.
Ross went on to suggest that federal workers struggling during the shutdown should have taken out loans to make ends meet. The ‘shutdown loans’ of up to $5,000 offered by Ross’ own Department of Commerce Federal Credit Union had an interest rate of almost 9 percent.
Ross could not comprehend why workers struggling to make ends meet during the shutdown would not want to take out these loans with interest. In some financial cases, federal workers may not have even qualified for a loan in the first place.
President Trump and Congress have agreed to reopen the government temporarily, but federal employees are still awaiting their backpay. On January, the White House tweeted that federal workers would be paid, “in the coming days.”