SHUTDOWN BITES

Trump foots bill for fast-food feast

US President Donald Trump speaking in front of a spread of fast food he ordered for a ceremony honouring the Clemson Tigers football team in the State Dining Room of the White House on Monday. With the US government shutdown, about 800,000 federal em
US President Donald Trump speaking in front of a spread of fast food he ordered for a ceremony honouring the Clemson Tigers football team in the State Dining Room of the White House on Monday. With the US government shutdown, about 800,000 federal employees, including much of the White House residence staff, have been on mandatory leave or working without pay.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WASHINGTON • With White House residence staff among those hit by the United States government shutdown, President Donald Trump personally ordered in an "all American" feast of burgers and pizza for a visiting football team.

Silver platters were heaped high with McDonald's quarter pounders and the red-and-white burger wrappers of Wendy's in the State Dining Room on Monday.

White House chefs normally would serve much fancier fare underneath the stern gaze of the room's portrait of Abraham Lincoln. But they are furloughed, staying home without pay cheques as Mr Trump fights with Congress over funding the federal government.

"Because of the shutdown, as you know... we went out and we ordered American fast food paid for by me," he quipped, as he prepared to play host to the Clemson Tigers university players to celebrate their national championship win.

"I think they'd like it better than anything we could give," said Mr Trump after landing back at the White House following a day trip to New Orleans. "We have pizzas, we have 300 hamburgers, many, many French fries, all of our favourite foods - I want to see what's here when we leave, because I don't think it's going to be much," he mused.

Asked to name his favourite fast food - as he stood smiling behind the gargantuan spread - Mr Trump demurred, insisting: "If it's American, I like it."

"The reason we did this is because of the shutdown," he added. "We want to make sure that everything is right, so we sent out, and we got this."

 

About 800,000 federal employees - including much of the White House residence staff - have been on mandatory leave or working without pay for 24 days as Mr Trump and Congress wrangle over funding for a wall on the southern border with Mexico.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2019, with the headline 'Trump foots bill for fast-food feast '. Print Edition | Subscribe