Connolly Sponsors Legislation to Protect Federal Workers and Their Families from Losing Their Homes, Falling Behind in Paying Bills During Shutdown

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Washington, January 9, 2019 | comments
Today, Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) joined Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Mark Warner (D-VA), and Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-WA), in introducing the Federal Employee Civil Relief Act. The new bicameral legislation would protect federal workers and their families from foreclosures, evictions, and loan defaults during a government shutdown.

“For weeks, President Trump’s shutdown has threatened the livelihoods of more than 800,000 federal employees and scores of federal contract workers who are trying to get by without a paycheck,” said Representative Connolly. “Congressional Democrats, however, stand ready to shield these public servants from the worst impulses of the President and his enablers in Congress. Amidst this latest assault on our federal workforce, the Federal Employee Civil Relief Act provides our civil servants with some much needed, and well earned, peace of mind.”

“While the President and Senate Republicans struggle to get their act together, real people are suffering,” said Senator 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.”

“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 Representative 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.”

“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.”

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.

These protections 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.

The bill is sponsored in the Senate by Senators Brian Schatz (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), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.). The companion legislation in the House of Representatives is sponsored by Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.), Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) 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.).

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