Legislation Introduced to Protect Federal Workers During Shutdown
Sen. Brian Schatz and U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) led a group of 22 lawmakers in introducing the Federal Employee Civil Relief Act on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. The new legislation would protect federal workers and their families from foreclosures, evictions and loan defaults during a government shutdown.
“While the President and Senate Republicans struggle to get their act together, real people are suffering,” said Sen. Schatz. “Right now, thousands of federal workers and their families are struggling to pay rent and make ends meet. It’s absolutely unacceptable. Our bill will protect federal workers and make sure they aren’t harmed because of a political stunt.”
“As we enter the 19th day of President Trump’s temper tantrum over his vanity wall, hundreds of thousands of hard-working federal employees are facing real hardships as mortgage, rent, and student loan payments come due,” said Sen. Hirono. “This important legislation provides relief to federal workers who are unable to pay their bills on account of not receiving their paychecks this Friday, and should be added to legislation that funds the government and gets our locked out federal workers back on the job. I urge Majority Leader McConnell to schedule votes on such legislation immediately.’
“Across 800,000 kitchen tables today, hardworking people are trying to figure out how to pay bills and provide for their families without an income,” said Rep. Kilmer. “Federal workers are public servants, they deserve better than being treated like pawns in a negotiation. This shutdown is wrong, and it’s time to reopen the government—but until that happens, it’s Congress’s responsibility to help out the families most affected. This bill gives them some much needed relief.”
Cosponsors of Schatz’s bill in the Senate include U.S. Sens. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.). Kilmer will introduce companion legislation in the House of Representatives with the following co-sponsors: Reps Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), Susie Lee (D-Nev.), Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Brendan Boyle (D-Penn.) and Katherine Clark (D-Mass.).
“Federal workers—those on the job without pay and this locked out of their jobs—are dedicated public servants who simply want to do their jobs on behalf of the American people,” said Sen. Cardin. “They should not suffer over and over again because of this shutdown. We have a responsibility to end this shutdown immediately. We also need to ensure federal workers aren’t paying the price of this gridlock for years to come.”
“Federal workers are already suffering the consequences of the government shutdown,” said Sen. Van Hollen. “I’ve heard from many of my constituents facing rent and mortgage payments, student loan bills, and childcare costs that they don’t know how they’ll afford without a paycheck. This is unacceptable. No federal employee should be punished for a government shutdown they had nothing to do with. I will continue working to reopen the federal government and support our civil servants during this unnecessary Trump shutdown.”
“Our federal workers who have dedicated their careers to public service are now struggling to make ends meet during this senseless, politically motivated shutdown,” Sen. Hassan said. “This bill would lend support to our federal workers and ensure that their families are protected from hardships—such as evictions and loan defaults—during this shutdown, and any future shutdowns.”
“Federal employees and their families across New Mexico are being hit especially hard by President Trump’s reckless and unnecessary shutdown,” said Sen.Heinrich. “This bill would help alleviate financial stress and protect federal workers in New Mexico impacted by the shutdown. I will continue urging Senate Republicans and the president to pass our bipartisan proposal to reopen the government immediately.”
“Right now there are 800,000 federal workers who’ve been without pay for almost three weeks,” said Sen. Booker. “Many are now being forced to drain savings or are unable to pay for rent, mortgage payments, student loans, childcare, food and transportation. Federal workers don’t deserve this, and should be protected from the harmful impact of President Trump’s shutdown.”
“My constituents back home in Connecticut shouldn’t have to wonder when they’re going to get their next paycheck or when they’re going back to work because the president isn’t getting his wall that no one on the border wants anyway,” said Sen. Murphy. “President Trump and Senate Republicans need to end this shutdown and open the government today.”
“The Trump shutdown is punishing federal workers, and contractors who are serving without pay. This legislation will protect these workers as their families face economic uncertainty and insecurity,” said Sen. Baldwin.”We should be respecting their hard work and it is simply wrong that they are victims of President Trump’s shutdown. Both Democrats and Republicans agree we should end his shutdown and have a vote in the Senate to pass bipartisan legislation to reopen the government.”
“Workers and their families should not have to face losing their homes or defaulting on loans because of President Trump’s temper tantrum,” said Sen. Brown. ” President Trump is hurting the people who make this country work, and he needs to do his job and reopen the government right now. This legislation will help ease suffering among workers impacted by this unnecessary and avoidable shutdown.”
“With each day that passes during President Trump’s shutdown, hundreds of thousands of federal employees are worrying about how they will pay for their bills even though their paychecks have stopped coming in,” said Senator Warner. “This important legislation ensures that federal workers don’t face repercussions for making the hard choice between paying for basic necessities and paying their student loans. This unnecessary shutdown is already hurting federal workers, they don’t need additional hardships that could impact their financial future.”
“Hard working federal employees in Nevada, and across the country, are already making sacrifices as they fight to provide for their families, pay their bills, and keep a roof over their heads,” said Sen. Cortez Masto. “Our public servants and their families shouldn’t be threatened with being thrown out of their homes because of a President who manufactured a crisis and shut down our government.”
The bill addresses the real threat of federal workers losing their homes, falling behind on student loans and other bills, having their car repossessed, or losing their health insurance because they have been furloughed during a shutdown or required to work without pay. Modeled after the Servicemembers Relief Act, the Schatz-Kilmer legislation will prohibit landlords and creditors from taking action against federal workers or contractors who are hurt by the government shutdown and unable to pay rent or repay loans. The bill would also empower federal workers to sue creditors or landlords that violate this protection. The Federal Employee Civil Relief Act would safeguard workers impacted by a shutdown from the following:
- Being evicted or foreclosed;
- Having their car or other property repossessed;
- Falling behind in student loan payments;
- Falling behind in paying bills; or
- Losing their insurance because of missed premiums.
The protection would last during and 30 days following a shutdown to give workers a chance to keep up with their bills. The partial government shutdown, now in its third week, hurts more than 800,000 federal workers in all 50 states.
“People who took an oath to serve their country as federal employees should not have to worry about being evicted, having their car repossessed or going further into debt because of a government shutdown,” said Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union. “I want to commend Sen. Schatz and Rep. Kilmer for having the foresight to introduce legislation that would protect the nation’s federal workforce, many of whom are suffering after nearly three weeks without pay. The Federal Employee Civil Relief Act would give frontline federal workers a reasonable amount of time to catch up on their bills once the shutdown ends and their income is restored. Federal employees around the country are grateful that there are members of Congress who are looking out for them in their time of need.”
“The International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) applauds Senator Schatz and Congressman Kilmer for authoring this critically important bill,” said Paul Shearon, international president of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers. “This legislation will provide much needed relief to federal employees who may be facing civil actions against them due to a lapse in pay that has resulted because of the government shutdown. It is truly unfortunate that President Trump is using these civilian workers and their families as political pawns to achieve a political goal. The real life ramifications on these working Americans are hard choices between feeding their families, and meeting other financial obligations. The Federal Employee Civil Relief Act will provide impacted workers additional time after a shutdown to meet their financial obligations that would otherwise result in actions against them such as eviction, foreclosure and other civil claims. IFPTE endorses this bill, and urges all Senators to support it.”