George W. Bush, the 43th US President, has reached out to government workers who've missed their pay checks due to the partial shutdown of US government agencies, the longest in the nation's history to date.
He and his wife, Laura W. Bush, have delivered pizza to agents of the Secret Service, the agency protecting current and former US presidents and their families.
"Laura W. Bush and I are grateful to our Secret Service personnel and the thousands of Federal employees who are working hard for our country without a pay check," George W. Bush wrote in a rare political statement.
"And we thank our fellow citizens who are supporting them. It's time for leaders on both sides to put politics aside, come together, and end this shutdown."
The ex-president's post has garnered a lot of attention on social media, with some praising Bush Jr. for his gesture.
I’m no fan of Bush, but this was a kind thing to do.— Tonya Jewell (@Tonya_Aria) 19 января 2019 г.
"What a sweet man and thinking of others is very kind," wrote a user.
For some sceptics, however, it was overshadowed by his presidential record.
"Wish he'd cared more for Americans when he had the chance," quipped another commenter.
Cute. He's still a war criminal.— TheBlacksmith (@TheBlacksmith77) 19 января 2019 г.
A lapse in federal spending has affected nearly 800,000 government workers including roughly 6,000 Secret Service employees, according to DHS estimates. Earlier this week, Donald Trump signed a bill that would provide compensation to the furloughed employees when the shutdown is over.
The POTUS has thrown out a teaser for a "major" announcement to be made on Saturday on the shutdown and border security, but he provided no further details.
It comes as the Democratic lawmakers in the House of Representatives, who had gained a majority in the lower chamber of Congress after the midterm elections, refused to meet Donald Trump's demand for $5.6 billion in funding for border security. The bill would include appropriations for the construction of a wall along the US-Mexico border, which POTUS said would help the nation tackle illegal immigration and the problems it entails such as the illegal drug trade and human trafficking.
In order to re-open the government agencies, the House of Representatives should pass a spending bill that would be approved by the Senate and signed by the President. The latter declared that he could make the shutdown last for "months and even years". "I don't think it will, but I'm prepared," he later admitted.