U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the new chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, released a statement Friday criticizing the White House for the partial government shutdown, and described President Trump’s position on border wall funding as “bizarre” and “confounding.”
Thompson, who previously released a statement on the committee’s website regarding recently departed White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, noted the number of federal employees under the umbrella Department of Homeland Security working without pay during the shutdown, which began at midnight on Dec. 22.
“Since the government shutdown on December 21, roughly 2.5 million holiday travelers each day have passed through airport security checkpoints staffed by Transportation Security officers who aren’t getting paid,” Thompson said. “Almost half of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency workforce is furloughed, and the rest are working without pay. In all, 87 percent of the DHS workforce is reporting to work without pay and without knowing when their next paycheck will come.”
Thompson said he was disappointed that the newly elected Congress is forced to address “unfinished business of the last Congress,” and that federal employees are being treated like pawns.
“There is no evidence that a wall spanning the U.S.-Mexico border will make America safer. The kinds of threats America faces today transcend physical borders. The president needs to learn that and adjust his priorities accordingly,” Thompson stated. “I have spent over a decade working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to identify and invest in effective ways to secure the border. That is why I find the president’s bizarre obsession with wasting billions of dollars on building a wall so confounding.”