HC Wake-Up Call: John Kelly Speaks Out, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Responds to Claire McCaskill, & Trump Freezes Federal Workers' Pay for 2019

Good morning Her Campus! With a break-neck news cycle, there is no possible way for you to stay on top of every story that comes across your feeds—we’re all only human, after all.

But, life comes at you fast. So grab a cup of coffee and settle in for this quick and dirty guide to stories you might’ve been sleeping on (like, literally. It’s early.)

John Kelly Talks Trump's Wall, Jeff Sessions & More in Exit Interview

President Trump's outgoing chief of staff John Kelly — who officially leaves his post Wednesday — said in an exit interview with the Los Angeles Times that Trump abandoned his campaign pledge to construct "a solid concrete wall early on in the administration." Kelly added that the proposed structure is "not a wall," but rather a mix of steel barriers and other technology. 

Kelly also discussed the administration's "zero-tolerance" immigration policy that ultimately separated children from their parents at the border. According to him, the idea came from then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions rather than the White House. "What happened was Jeff Sessions, he was the one that instituted the zero-tolerance process on the border that resulted in both people being detained and the family separation,” Kelly said. "He surprised us."

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Responds to Criticism from Claire McCaskill

Outgoing Senator Claire McCaskill has been critical of incoming Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in recent weeks, most recently referring to her as "a bright shiny new object."​ Ocasio-Cortez responded in a tweet: "Not sure why fmr Sen. McCaskill keeps going on TV to call me a 'thing' and 'shiny object,' but it's pretty disappointing. McCaskill promised she'd '100% back Trump up' on his anti-immigrant rhetoric & lost. In MO, almost all progressive ballot issues won."

Ocasio-Cortez continued in another tweet, "I’m also not sure why McCaskill is covering for the GOP by saying they 'secretly think Trump is nuts'. Nobody cares. Trump is melting down our institutions and inciting division between people. At any time GOP could have checked him and choose not to. They’re accomplices."

McCaskill lost her Senate seat in November while running for her third term in Missouri. Earlier this week, she also told CNN that she wasn't sure what Ocasio-Cortez has "done yet to generate that kind of enthusiasm." She seemingly warned against agendas "considered too liberal in certain parts of the country," per CNN. McCaskill added, "I'm a little confused why she's the thing."

Trump Has Frozen Federal Workers' Pay for 2019

On Friday, Trump issued an executive order freezing federal workers' pay for 2019. The order — which prevents civilian workers from receiving an automatic 2.1 percent raise — comes as hundreds of thousands of workers across the U.S. are already working without pay or furloughed due to the partial government shutdown. 

According to CNN, Trump initially announced his plans to order the freeze in August, citing a lack of federal funding. "We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases," Trump wrote in a letter to House and Senate leaders back in August.

Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, issued a statement condemning the freeze. "This is just pouring salt into the wound," he said, per Slate. "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."

What to look for...

Plans to ring in 2019 — it's finally NYE!