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Udall And Other Senators Urge Administration to Pay Federal Workers Affected by the Shutdown

Jan 28, 2019

Credit U.S. Senator Tom Udall D-NM

Commentary: Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) joined a bipartisan group of 29 senators in urging Margaret M. Weichert, Acting Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), to provide back pay for federal workers as soon as possible. In their letter, the senators refer to the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act, which was cosponsored by Udall and signed into law two weeks ago to guarantee that federal and other government employees affected by the shutdown — including at least 10,800 workers in New Mexico alone — will receive their back pay as soon as federal agencies reopen.

The senators wrote, “More than 800,000 federal workers have gone without pay because the government shutdown locked them out of their jobs or required them to work without pay. These workers need to know now when they will finally receive their missed paychecks.”

They continued, “We supported the recently enacted Government Employee Fair Treatment Act, which ensured that all federal workers would receive back pay. That law mandates that the federal government shall provide back pay, ‘at the earliest date possible after the lapse in appropriations ends, regardless of scheduled pay dates.’”

They concluded, “This government shutdown made it clearer than ever just how dedicated civil servants are to their jobs, and how vital those jobs are to the nation. We ask that you publicize when exactly these civil servants can expect to receive their back pay, and we hope it will arrive very soon.”

Joining Udall were U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Susan M. Collins (R-Maine), Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.), Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Angus King (I-Maine).

The full text of the letter is available HERE and below.

Dear Acting Director Weichert:

Now that the longest ever government shutdown is finally over, we are writing to urge you to provide back pay for federal workers as soon as possible. More than 800,000 federal workers have gone without pay because the government shutdown locked them out of their jobs or required them to work without pay. These workers need to know now when they will finally receive their missed paychecks.

On Friday, January 25th, as President Trump finally announced that he would end this government shutdown, many federal workers missed their second full paycheck. These federal workers have seen bills pile up during the government shutdown, and many of them are currently paying high interest on credit cards or even payday loans to afford basic needs. We have heard from civil servants who will not be able to make their February rent or mortgage payment without their back pay.

We supported the recently enacted Government Employee Fair Treatment Act, which ensured that all federal workers would receive back pay. That law mandates that the federal government shall provide back pay, “at the earliest date possible after the lapse in appropriations ends, regardless of scheduled pay dates.” We are pleased to see your recent OPM guidance reaffirming this requirement in the law. And we note that when President Trump announced he would agree to reopen the government, he said, “I will make sure that all employees receive their back pay very quickly, or as soon as possible. It will happen fast.”

This government shutdown made it clearer than ever just how dedicated civil servants are to their jobs, and how vital those jobs are to the nation. We ask that you publicize when exactly these civil servants can expect to receive their back pay, and we hope it will arrive very soon.

Thank you for your attention to this matter, and we look forward to your response.