Press Releases

Sen. Warner Brings Voices of Furloughed Virginians to Senate Floor

Reads messages from constituents who are impacted, calls on Congressional colleagues to compromise

Jul 25 2013

U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA) read messages on the Senate floor today from several Virginia constituents impacted by sequester cuts and federal employee furloughs, and urged his colleagues to work together to resolve a budget impasse before the fiscal year ends on September 30th.

“I come to the floor today to try to provide real world examples of the damaging impacts caused by our inability to do our jobs,” Sen. Warner told his colleagues. “Our actions – or, in this case, our continued inaction – is having real consequences on real people.  In many respects, Virginia is ground zero in terms of the impact of federal employee furloughs, and it is having a destructive effect across our workforce. This is no way to run a business.  It’s certainly no way to run an enterprise as large as the federal government.”

Sen. Warner proceeded to read a number of letters and email messages from Virginians, providing a human voice to describe how Congress’ failure to compromise has taken a daily toll on family budgets and workplace morale:

  • “Both my husband and I are DoD employees, and we will be taking a 20% gross pay cut for 11 weeks,” wrote a woman who works at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital in Hampton Roads. “My husband and I will be OK, but others are not as fortunate… The single parent on one income is going to struggle to pay for the needs of his or her child.  The employee who has had no pay increase in the last three years is going to struggle to pay the mortgage.”
  • “I have three children in college, and I am paying for college loans of two children who have graduated,” wrote one federal employee who lives in Woodbridge. “Eleven furlough days don’t sound like much, but over the course of the year the less of nearly $4,000 in income is crucial.  If I ran my own budget like this, I would have to fire myself.”
  • “The failure of Congress is having a tangible and real negative impact on people’s lives and livelihood,” said a West Point graduate and Iraq War veteran from Hampton Roads. “I do not see leadership,  I do not see accountability, and I do not see selfless service that rises above partisan politics.”
  • “The morale in our agency is so poor,” wrote a former Army officer now working in Springfield, “that most workers who used to work 10 or 11 hour days are planning to work exactly 8 hours.  So the 20% cut is really a much sharper reduction in productivity.”
  • “I worked tirelessly throughout undergraduate school, incurring student debt, and then labored 6 years in graduate school to earn my Ph.D.,” added a Navy physicist from Arlington.  “I passed up opportunities in private industry to become an employee at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, a place where I felt I could give something back to this country.  [Since then], I have published papers in some of the most prestigious journals in science, developed and patented new ideas, and worked on research to fight and diagnose diseases and cancers.  I’ve also never seen a cost of living adjustment.  And now, as my wife and I prepare to start a family, I find myself facing a 20% pay cut with an unknown end date.”
  • A military firefighter at the Army’s Fort Lee in Petersburg writes, “Apparently, there is little concern for the firefighters and their families, not to mention the rest of the government employees throughout the country.  This includes an obvious lack of concern for the health, safety, and welfare of our troops as well as their families!  Cutting fire and medical services by furloughing firefighters proves my point.”
  • "Three years of pay freeze followed by a furlough seriously makes me question if this is where I want to spend the rest of my career. I intend to utilize my extra time this summer and fall exploring non-government career opportunities," wrote one Navy employee from the Fredericksburg area.

“What I find striking about these messages is this,” Sen. Warner concluded. “These federal workers are not talking about “red team” or ‘blue team.’ They’re not making a distinction between members of the House and members of the Senate. Their disappointment and anger is directed at the entire Congress. It is not healthy for our democracy when more than 90% of Americans disapprove of our actions.”

“I will keep fighting for the significant federal workforce that resides in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” he continued. “I will continue coming to this floor and providing examples of real world impacts of the sequester.  I will continue reaching out to my colleagues anywhere I find them to argue for a responsible budget plan.”

Since joining the Senate in 2009, Sen. Warner has been a consistent advocate for federal workers and Virginia’s military families and veterans. In 2010, he co-founded the bipartisan Gang of Six, which worked for two years in an effort to find common ground on solutions to our nation’s deficits and debt. As chairman of the Budget Committee’s Task Force on Government Performance, Sen. Warner has worked to bring greater efficiency, accountability and transparency to government programs and spending.