Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (pahm-PAY’-oh) says American diplomats’ morale remains “good” despite the government shutdown that’s left many of them working without pay.
“Morale is good,” Pompeo told reporters in Abu Dhabi, one of the stops on his nine-nation tour of Middle East, as the shutdown was set to enter its fourth week. “They understand that there are squabbles in Washington, but their mission remains, their duties continue and they’re executing them.”
Almost half of the State Department employees in the United States and about one-quarter abroad have been furloughed during the shutdown.
Even with the government closed, Pompeo said he still plans to host all U.S. ambassadors for a previously scheduled conference in Washington next week.
“It’s something that we’ve had teed up for a while,” he said. “It is incredibly important that they hear directly from me. It’s an important opportunity for me to get in front of 180-plus of my commanders in the field to look them in the eye and describe to them what it is we’re doing and how it is I expect them to do that.”
“We’re doing our best to make sure it doesn’t impact our diplomacy,” he said of the longest federal shutdown in U.S. history.
The previous record for the longest shutdown occurred during Bill Clinton’s presidency. That one lasted from December 15, 1995, through January 6, 1996.
The current shutdown appears destined to last at least a few more days, Democratic lawmakers rejecting President Donald Trump’s demands to include $5.7 billion for a border wall in a spending bill.
The shutdown has furloughed 380,000 federal workers and forced an additional 420,000 to work without pay.