Press Release

February 24, 2015
Cardin Leads Group of 14 Senators Introducing Legislation to Protect DHS Employees from a Targeted Republican Shutdown

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and colleagues Senators Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Tom Kaine and Mark Warner (Both D-Va.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) have introduced legislation, the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act of 2015 (S.554), that would guarantee full pay for federal workers at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), who could be furloughed because of a lapse in federal funding or agency shutdown. In December, the Congress passed a $1.014 trillion funding package that avoided a full government shutdown but left the Department of Homeland Security and its more than 240,000 federal employees in limbo with only partial-year funding that expires this Friday, February 27. This legislation is similar to language passed into law during or following previous government shutdowns.


“Hardworking federal employees, who keep our homeland safe from harm every day, did not cause our fiscal crises nor did they contribute to the legislative gridlock over immigration reform, but once again they are being put in the crossfire between Congress and the Executive branch,” said Senator Cardin. “An estimated 85-88 percent of all DHS employees will still be forced to work during any shutdown. They will stand guard, screen passengers, and keep Americans safe from harm with the unnecessary distraction of not knowing exactly when they might receive their next paycheck. It is our responsibility to assure these public servants, mostly middle class and struggling to get by, they will be made whole again when this politically generated crisis finally ends. These are real people with families. It is the right thing to do.”


“Congress must help the employees at Homeland Security protect our country and do their job,” Vice Chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee Barbara Mikulski said. “The Coast Guard, Border Protection, Customs, TSA at the airports, and the workers protecting us from cyber security threats‎ should not get IOUS. We have to give them respect. We have to pay their salaries. I will keep fighting to get the Senate to take up and pass my clean DHS funding bill. And I will continue working with Senator Cardin to assure our dedicated federal employees receive the pay they deserve.”


The full text of the bill is available here.


“NTEU is grateful for Senator Cardin’s leadership to mitigate the harm to Homeland Security Department employees if there is a funding lapse by ensuring that employees who are furloughed do not lose pay and that any potential pay delay for all employees is minimized to the greatest extent possible,” said Colleen M. Kelley, National President of the National Treasury Employees Union. “The large majority of Customs and Border Protection employees represented by NTEU will be required to work without pay until a shutdown ends.  That is outrageous treatment for the brave employees we entrust with keeping our country safe and we join with Senator Cardin to try to avoid it.  We also applaud Senator Cardin’s efforts to limit the harshest impacts of a DHS shutdown should it occur.”


 “We thank Senator Cardin for introducing the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Act of 2015,” said AFGE National President J. David Cox. “The prospect of a DHS shutdown is unsettling enough for employees, without the added worry of wondering whether they’ll get paid when the shutdown ends. This legislation takes that concern off the table, so employees can focus like they always do on protecting and serving the American public.”