President Donald Trump dodged questions Friday about how federal workers may be struggling to get by during the lengthy partial government shutdown, claiming that most of them are standing behind him.
“Many of those people, maybe most of those people, that really have not been ― and will not be getting their money in at this moment ― those people, in many cases, are the biggest fan of what we’re doing,” Trump told reporters during a press conference.
When another reporter asked Trump about the safety net for federal workers ― many of whom are either furloughed or having to work without pay ― Trump again claimed that these people are backing his position to keep the government shut down until Democrats agree to give him $5.6 billion for his border wall.
“I really believe a lot of them want to see border security,” he said.
Trump has made unsubstantiated claims about support for his wall throughout the shutdown to deflect from the real financial consequences that individuals caught up in this fight are facing.
Polls find that most Americans do not support the wall or funding for it. While some federal workers may back the president’s stance, there’s no evidence that most of them do.
Here are some responses HuffPost received from self-identified federal workers:
“I am a furloughed fed and I do NOT want a god damned fence. I want to go back to work serving the public and getting a paycheck.” ― federal worker
“I’m really pissed to not be working, but I will be even more pissed if the Dems cave and allow this tantrum to work.” ― federal worker in Washington, D.C.
“Neither me, nor any of my coworkers want any of this wall or this fight. We want a paycheck.” ― employee at the Federal Aviation Administration
“The health of the nation is endangered by Trump’s tantrum to get his wall.” ― federal worker
The American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal employee union with more than 700,000 members, has also taken issue with Trump’s claim.
“They are eager to get back to work,” AFGE President Jeffrey David Cox Sr. said in a statement earlier on in the shutdown. “They unequivocally oppose using shutdowns as a means of resolving policy disputes. This is not about a wall, this is about 800,000 real people with real families and real bills to pay.”
AFGE has also sued the government over the shutdown, saying it’s illegal to make people work without pay. Employees who are considered “essential” to the functioning of the government ― such as air traffic controllers and people who work in law enforcement ― continue to work during the shutdown but will not get paid until after it’s over. Congress will have to pass legislation authorizing back pay for both furloughed employees and those who worked during the shutdown. Trump has said he would support it.
Since about three-quarters of the government’s funding has already been appropriated by Congress, only certain agencies are closed for the shutdown. An estimated 420,000 federal employees are working without pay, and another 380,000 have been furloughed.
HuffPost readers: Are you affected by the government shutdown? Email us about it. If you’re willing to be interviewed, please provide a phone number.