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‘Pouring salt into the wound’: Trump freezes pay of nearly 2 million federal workers during shutdown over his wall

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With hundreds of thousands of federal employees currently furloughed or working without pay due to the ongoing government shutdown, President Donald Trump delivered another blow to struggling workers on Friday by signing an executive order that will freeze the pay of around two million public employees in 2019.

This article first appeared at Common Dreams.

“This is just pouring salt into the wound,” declared Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents around 100,000 federal workers. “It is shocking that federal employees are taking yet another financial hit. As if missed paychecks and working without pay were not enough, now they have been told that they don’t even deserve a modest pay increase.”

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Trump’s executive order—which largely flew under the radar of national news coverage—makes official his announcement earlier this year that he would cancel a scheduled 2.1 percent pay raise for 1.8 million non-military federal workers

As justification for the widely denounced move, Trump cited the need to “put our nation on a fiscally sustainable course.”

The president’s sudden concern for the budget deficit came just months after he signed into law $1.5 trillion in tax cuts, which have disproportionately flowed to wealthy Americans and large corporations.

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“President Trump pushed through a tax scam that gave unprecedented handouts to billionaires and corporations—but believes it’s too expensive to pay hardworking federal workers a reasonable wage,” wrote Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) following Trump’s August announcement.

The president’s move to freeze the pay of millions of federal workers comes as hundreds of thousands of public employees and government contractors are increasingly worried about being able to make rent and pay their bills, as the partial shutdown heads into January with no agreement in sight.

“We’re sort of being held hostage in the middle, and we have families and obligations,” Dena Ivey, a furloughed probate specialist in the Anchorage office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, told the New York Times on Friday. “I don’t know if I’m going to be able to make rent. I’m basically living on credit now.”

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The Trump administration sparked outrage on Thursday by suggesting that federal workers could do odd jobs for their landlords such as “painting” or “carpentry” to help cover rent as the shutdown continues.

As Vox reported on Thursday, while many federal workers could receive back pay after the government is reopened, thousands of government contractors aren’t “going to be paid at all.”

“As many as 2,000 subcontractors in federal buildings including janitors, security guards, and cafeteria servers are not only experiencing a sharp break in their work schedules, they also won’t be compensated for this pause,” Vox noted. “Government employees typically receive back pay after the shutdown is over, but contractors are paid directly by companies that can’t bill the government for services when it’s shut down. Because these companies won’t get paid, they, in turn, aren’t able to pay their workers.”

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Trump told Rick Perry to ‘visit with Rudy’ when he asked why he called off meetings with Ukraine’s president: report

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On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Energy Secretary Rick Perry was ordered by President Donald Trump to get in touch with his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani about "corruption" in Ukraine — at the same time that he and Giuliani were attempting to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to help him dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden.

Speaking to the Journal, Perry denied knowing anything about Trump going after Biden specifically, but said the Trump told him he was not "comfortable" that the Ukrainians had "straightened up their act" — an apparent reference to Trump's belief that Ukraine tried to interfere in the 2016 presidential election for Hillary Clinton.

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Sondland was going to testify Trump gave the impression they should coordinate with Giuliani on Ukraine: report

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European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland is slated to give testimony Thursday to the House committees on President Donald Trump's Ukraine scandal.

Sondland was slated to tell investigators that Trump gave him the impression that he and two other officials should coordinate with the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, The New York Times said in an explosive report Wednesday.

"That command effectively created a foreign policy back channel that cut the State Department and National Security Council out of deliberations involving a pivotal ally against Russia," The Times reported.

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Trump’s lawyers are trying to tell Appeals Court they actually won the taxes lawsuit — but are still appealing

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President Donald Trump's lawyers sent out a bizarre letter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, making the case that they actually won their case to keep the president's taxes a secret. It's an odd take given that they're filing for an appeal.

Oct. 7, a federal judge dismissed Trump's efforts in a 75-page opinion calling the White House claim "extraordinary."

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero explained that no occupant of the White House enjoys "absolute immunity from criminal process of any kind." Such a position "would constitute an overreach of executive power."

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