January 11, 2019

Cardin, Van Hollen Introduce Legislation to Protect Federal Workers from Losing Their Homes, Falling Behind on Paying Bills During Shutdown

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) joined Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) in introducing the Federal Employee Civil Relief Act. The new legislation would protect federal workers and their families from foreclosures, evictions, and loan defaults during a government shutdown.

“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. They should not suffer over and over again because of this shutdown,” said Senator Cardin. “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. 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,” said Senator Van Hollen.

In addition to Cardin, Van Hollen, Schatz, and Kilmer, the legislation was co-sponsored by U.S. Senators 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.). And in the House of Representatives, U.S. Representatives 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.).

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. 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,” said Paul Shearon, International President of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers.

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