‘Being punished’ and held ‘hostage’: Furloughed federal workers pan Trump’s Oval Office speech

‘Being punished’ and held ‘hostage’: Furloughed federal workers pan Trump’s Oval Office speech

On Tuesday evening, January 8, President Donald Trump gave a ten-minute Oval Office speech designed to convince Americans that a massive invasion of violent criminals, gang members, terrorists and drug traffickers is coming into the United States via the U.S./Mexico border. Trump’s critics have been denouncing the speech as full of distortions and false information, often noting that his partial shutdown of the federal government is bringing considerable hardship to furloughed workers. And when CBS News asked some of those workers for their reactions to Trump’s speech, their frustration was obvious.


Leisyka Parrott, a furloughed employee of the Bureau of Land Management, was highly critical of the president.

“I just don’t feel that he has to hold the country hostage,” Parrott told CBS News. “I don’t buy it—that that has to happen, that he has to hold the country hostage to get this at my expense. At all of our expenses. It’s all the single moms that are struggling and going, ‘Oh my God, what am I going to do?’”

When Parrott (a single mother who only had $800 left) watched the speech, she was hoping that Trump would give some indication when she will have a paycheck again—and she was bitterly disappointed.

“Yeah, I was hoping, I was like, ‘Oh, they’re going to put us back to work tomorrow,’” Parrott asserted. “That’s what I was hoping to hear, to be honest. I mean, maybe I’m living in a dream world, but it seems even more polarized than I could have imagined.”

Julie Clark, a furloughed park ranger in Northern California, is worried about defaulting on her student loans. Since the shutdown, her only source of income has been a side business cleaning windows—and she feels like she is “being punished” for something that isn’t her fault.

Clark told CBS News, “We all have to make compromises with each other throughout our daily lives—with our boss, our partner. It seems like government should be a great example of that, and they just don’t seem to come together right now.”

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