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Beyer Shares Constituent Stories Of Hardship From 2018-19 Government Shutdown

Shutdowns are very bad, actually.

Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), who represents a Northern Virginia district containing one of the largest concentrations of federal employees in the U.S. House, today shared excerpts of letters constituents sent him during the 2018-19 shutdown. Their stories, shared with personal identifiable information removed, show the hardship and uncertainty experienced by federal employees who were furloughed or worked without pay during that shutdown.

Those letter excerpts may be read here, here, here, here, and here.

The 2018-19 lapse in appropriations resulting from Donald Trump’s demands for border wall funding caused a partial government shutdown of many agencies, affecting 800,000 federal employees. If Republicans block passage of government funding beyond September 30, 2023, it will result in a wider shutdown that would halt pay for far more of the federal government’s 2.2 million permanent, civilian, non-postal employees. Large portions of the nation’s millions of contractors would also face loss of pay, many of whom never received back pay after previous shutdowns. More than half of Americans say they live paycheck to paycheck.

A shutdown would also result in the loss of key services to the American people across the country, weaken national security, and damage the economy. Despite the hardship a shutdown would inflict on millions of Americans, however, House Republicans continue to downplay the negative effects of – and even express the desire to see – a government shutdown.

Beyer said:

“Many are caught up in palace intrigue and legislative drama right now, but I urge my colleagues to remember that there are a lot of real people out there who will be hurt if there is a government shutdown. These letters and emails show how shutdowns are a disaster for my constituents, our region, and millions of Americans across the country.

“When Donald Trump caused a shutdown five years ago, we had people who work for the government of the most powerful country in the world waiting in food lines in our capital city. Today untold numbers of federal employees and contractors – most of whom live and work outside the capital region – are preparing to face that hardship and uncertainty again.

“Intentionally forcing millions of workers to go without pay and shutting down essential services for the American people isn’t responsible governance, it is extremism. Yet today Republicans in both chambers are confidently predicting a shutdown that they are themselves making more likely with bad faith posturing, nihilism, and unrealistic demands that violate the Speaker’s agreement with President Biden.

“Republicans must find sanity and fund the government in a responsible, bipartisan manner to prevent a shutdown from happening.”

Beyer is the lead sponsor in the House of the End Shutdowns Act. He previously helped pass legislation during the 2019 shutdown that ultimately gave back pay to federal employees at the end of that shutdown, and guaranteed back pay to federal employees following any future lapse in appropriations.

The above email and letter excerpts may be viewed together here.