Press Releases

Congressman Anthony G. Brown Introduces Bill To Provide Unemployment Benefits To Essential Government Personnel

Washington, January 24, 2019

Congressman Anthony G. Brown (MD-04) released the following statement after introducing legislation to guarantee every federal employee can access unemployment benefits while President Trump keeps the government shut down. The Department of Labor has issued guidance that essential workers are not eligible for unemployment benefits even though they are being required to work without pay. This legislation, H.R. 720, would reverse that regulation and extend much needed relief.

“As the shutdown enters its 34th day, it’s unconscionable that the Trump administration is forcing hundreds of thousands of federal employees to work without providing a means for them to support themselves and their families,” said Congressman Anthony Brown (MD-04). “If the President is going to continue to hold federal employees hostage, then we will ensure they are provided for during his shutdown. It’s deeply disturbing the President is proud of the human suffering he has created, and we will do everything we can to provide support and relief.”

The Trump administration recently announced that nearly 50,000 additional federal employees - including tens of thousands at the Internal Revenue Service - were designated as essential and were being brought back to work without pay. Those workers will join the 420,000 federal employees that have already been classified as essential and have worked for more than a month without compensation.

“I am proud to work with Congressman Brown on this important legislation to provide much-needed relief to the civil servants who are being held hostage by President Trump’s government shutdown,” said Congressman Don Beyer (VA-08). “Almost 87,000 federal employees call my district home, and all of them deserve access to resources that enable them to provide for their families. It’s time for the President to stop using feds as political pawns, end the shutdown, and put government back to work for the people.”

A number of states have decided to unilaterally extend unemployment benefits for essential workers, including California, Colorado, Vermont and the District of Columbia. Michigan, New York, Virginia, Washington and other localities have urged the Trump administration to clarify federal workers’ eligibility for unemployment benefits.  

“Our federal workers are set to miss their second paycheck tomorrow and are scrambling to find ways to feed their families and pay their bills,” said Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL). “Congress needs to step up to ensure federal workers have the resources they need to provide for their families for as long as the President continues to hold them hostage. I will continue to work with Representatives Brown and Beyer to call for an end of the Trump shutdown and get our hardworking civil servants back to work.”

The bill is cosponsored by the following Members: Congressman Don Beyer (VA-08), Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), Congresswoman Elaine Luria (VA-02), Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Congressman David Trone (MD-06), Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (VA-10) and Congresswoman Lori Trahan (MA-03). Collectively these members represent more than 355,000 federal employees.