Press Releases

Beyer – Wittman Bill Protects DHS Employees’ Pay from Shutdown

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Washington, February 24, 2015 | Tia Shuyler (202-225-4376) | comments
Congressman Don Beyer introduced the bipartisan DHS Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act today to ensure that all federal Department of Homeland Security employees receive retroactive pay if there is a shutdown, regardless of furlough status. Congressman Rob Wittman (R-VA) is the lead Republican cosponsor. They are joined by Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-DC), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Donna Edwards (D-MD), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Scott Rigell (R-VA), John Delaney (D-MD), and Barbara Comstock (R-VA).

“The role of DHS employees has never been more critical than it is today. Yet for the second Congress in a row, federal workers face lost paychecks due to furloughs mandated by partisan politics,” said Rep. Beyer. “Today’s bipartisan proposal ensures DHS employees will not lose their pay just because Congress cannot agree on a funding bill. The men and women of the DHS work hard every day to keep us safe. Now we have to uphold our commitment to them.”

“Our federal workers are hardworking individuals who are committed to serving their fellow citizens. They deserve better than the dysfunction that too often plagues our budgeting and appropriations process. I am pleased to support this bill that would provide a degree of certainty to a dedicated workforce, the majority of whom would still be expected to serve in the event of a shutdown. To deny them the pay they have earned is unacceptable,” said Rep. Wittman.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the largest federal employee union representing 650,000 federal and DC government workers, voiced its support for the bipartisan legislation.

AFGE National President J. David Cox said, “AFGE applauds Representative Don Beyer (D-VA) and Representative Rob Wittman (R-VA) for introducing the ‘DHS Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act of 2015.’ This legislation will help ensure that federal employees will be paid retroactively should DHS funding lapse at the end of the week. We thank the Congressmen for recognizing that federal employees are not the cause of any shutdown and should not be punished by being deprived of their pay.”

If DHS funding lapses at midnight on February 27th, 85 percent of DHS employees would be designated “excepted” and would be asked to work without pay until a funding agreement is reached. The remaining approximately 30,000 employees would be furloughed without pay.

“The dedicated employees of the Department of Homeland Security should not be penalized if the Department shuts down,” said Congressman Steny H. Hoyer. “From securing our nation’s borders to guarding our airport checkpoints, we rely on these employees to keep America safe, and they should be compensated for the hard work they do every day. Federal employees responsible for the safety and well-being of our nation have already endured furloughs and salary freezes, and it is only right that we ensure they receive the pay they have earned. I’m proud to join my colleagues in cosponsoring this bill, and I will continue to advocate for our nation’s hardworking public servants.”

“Congress did not penalize workers after the 2013 shutdown, and that is the only fair thing to do again this year,” Congresswoman Norton said. “DHS employees have had nothing to do with the disagreements we in Congress have amongst ourselves.”

Rep. Van Hollen said, “The Congress should do its job, put politics aside, and fully fund the Department of Homeland Security. In a time of heightened security around the world, DHS employees are securing our borders, our shopping malls, and our airports. In the event that Congress fails to uphold its responsibility to fund the Department, hard-working DHS employees should not have to pay the price. This bill helps to honor their commitment and their sacrifice by guaranteeing they are paid when funding is restored.”

"Effectively carrying out DHS’ vast and daunting mission requires a herculean effort every day by thousands of hardworking civil servants,” said Rep. Connolly, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Federal workforce. “If DHS is shut down, the furloughed employees deserve to be made whole. They do not deserve to be victims of congressional dysfunction."

“Federal workers should not pay the price for Washington’s dysfunction,” said Rep. Rigell. “We need to make sure these hard working men and women are made whole.”

“I am proud to represent many dedicated men and women who work each day to make sure that our country is safe at the Department of Homeland Security. As someone who employed hundreds of people in the private sector, I am embarrassed that we habitually play politics with federal workers – that’s no way to treat a workforce. This bipartisan legislation will ensure that even in the event of a partial shutdown Homeland Security Employees will receive the pay they deserve for the critical work they do,” said Rep. Delaney.

“The House did its work, and now the Senate must act responsibly to fund the Department of Homeland Security and respect the rule of law. If that fails, this bipartisan legislation will give a sense of stability to our dedicated federal employees and their families at DHS. The federal workforce should not go without paychecks because Congress cannot reach an agreement on a funding bill. It is not fair to them or their families. Congress has provided back pay in the past and should again now if it fails to reach a deal before the end of the week,” said Rep. Comstock.
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Tags: Defense