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House Passes Bill to Help Federal Employees Harmed by Shutdown

Jan 11, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (Jan. 11, 2019)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, issued the following statement on the House floor in support of S. 24, the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019, which provides federal employees affected by the shutdown with back pay and passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 411 to 7:

 

Floor Statement

Chairman Elijah E. Cummings

 S. 24, the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019

January 11, 2019

 

As we enter Day 21 of the Trump Shutdown, it is incumbent upon the House to do everything we can to assuage the pain being felt by the dedicated federal workers who are missing their paychecks. 

 

Today, 800,000 federal employees will not receive their first paycheck of the new year.

 

Regardless of what Members think about the causes of this shutdown, every single one of us should agree that hardworking federal employees should not be held hostage to politics as a result.  

 

380,000 federal employees have been furloughed and locked out of their offices. 

 

Another 420,000 federal employees are working without pay.  Some even had to cancel already scheduled vacation days or sick leave to report to work.

 

These 800,000 men and women include personnel at the Federal Aviation Administration, the Bureau of Prisons, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Departments of Agriculture, Treasury and Justice.  

 

These are the men and women who keep our country safe, ensure the safety of our airports and food, protect our National Parks, and keep our economy moving.

 

S. 24 would provide back pay to federal employees furloughed during this shutdown and potential future shutdowns.

 

The measure also would allow essential employees to use their annual leave instead of having to cancel already scheduled and approved vacation plans.

 

Many federal workers live paycheck to paycheck.  They have mortgages and car loans to pay, day care expenses to cover, and food to put on the table.

 

And even while they struggle to pay these bills, furloughed employees face the stress and anxiety of not knowing whether or not they will be paid when the shutdown ends.

 

The least we can do is to relieve that uncertainty.

 

The President claims federal employees support this pointless shutdown.  I have not heard that from a single federal employee I have spoken to.   

 

What they want to do is to get back to work serving the American people. 

 

Promising they will receive back pay once this shutdown ends is the least we can do.

 

This bill passed the Senate with every single Senator’s consent.  And President Trump has indicated that he will sign it.

 

I urge every Member of the House to do the same and support this bill.

 

And then let’s end this shutdown and get the government open and working again.

 

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

Closing Statement

 

Mr. Speaker, as this shutdown drags on, it is wreaking havoc with the lives of patriotic federal workers who just want to get back to work and need a paycheck.

 

Hundreds of dedicated public servants have called my office as this shutdown reaches a record. 

 

They are worried and anxious about how they will pay their bills.

 

For example, the shutdown is having a dire effect on a 30-year employee at the IRS, whose finances and health are being imperiled. 

 

She has multiple sclerosis and needs a monthly injection that has a $50 copay, which she can’t afford.  

 

She hasn’t paid her mortgage and her lender won’t give her a break. 

 

This is not an isolated example.

 

Thousands of dedicated federal employees face similar circumstances.

Mr. Speaker, we must end this shutdown and send our federal employees back to work as soon as possible. 

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116th Congress