Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced plans to introduce legislation to secure back pay for the federal contractors who have gone without pay during the government shutdown. Warner and Kaine were joined by Senators Tina Smith, Sherrod Brown, Chris Van Hollen, and Ben Cardin. 

Each day, thousands of federal contractors provide critical services to support the federal government, often at low wages, and many have been furloughed or forced to accept reduced work hours as a result of the government shutdown. Many of these workers are janitorial, food, and security services workers.

“The ripple effect of this unnecessary government shutdown has already been felt by families of all stripes and walks of life across Virginia. Federal employees should be—and always have been—paid retroactively after a government shutdown. That isn’t the case for many low-wage federal contractors—like janitors, security guards, and cafeteria staff—many of whom are already living paycheck to paycheck,” Warner said. “Virginians and Americans across the country have entrusted Congress to work on their behalf, not abandon them in favor of political brinksmanship.” 

“Virginia is being hit hard by President Trump’s shutdown because we have a high number of federal employees wondering if their paychecks will come, but we also have a lot of federal contractors. We often do bills to make sure that paychecks for federal employees are made whole after a shutdown, but it’s not the same for these hardworking federal contractors who just want to do their jobs. To make it worse, many of these federal contractors are living paycheck-to-paycheck, so this really hurts them. I’m glad we are trying to find a way to make sure some of these workers get paid. This shutdown was completely unnecessary and we need to protect people who have been hurt by President Trump’s actions,” Kaine said.

Warner and Kaine have been outspoken against President Trump’s use of a government shutdown as a negotiating tactic. Virginia is home to more than 170,000 federal employees and tens of thousands of federal contractors.

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) joined 28 colleagues, led by Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Susan Collins (R-ME), in introducing legislation to guarantee back pay as soon as possible for federal workers who go without a paycheck during the current government shutdown. The Government Employee Fair Treatment Act also clarifies that employees who had previously scheduled approved leave occurring during a shutdown may take that leave without undue penalty. 

“Federal employees have worked hard to serve our country and we must ensure they don’t go without the pay their families were counting on just because of the President’s irresponsible actions,” said Warner and Kaine.  

View text of the Government Employee Fair Treatment ActHERE.

 

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WASHINGTON— Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent a letter to President Donald Trump, urging him in the strongest possible terms to back off a planned pay freeze for civilian federal employees in 2019.

"We write to urge you in the strongest possible terms to reverse your decision to freeze pay rates for non-military federal workers in 2019. After months of indecisiveness and mixed signals, your decision further penalizes hard-working federal employees already straining under the impact of the unnecessary government shutdown that began on December 22nd," the Senators told Trump. "Freezing pay for federal workers adds insult to injury for dedicated public servants already subject to political attacks and gamesmanship."

While the White House's FY19 budget proposed an across-the-board pay freeze for non-military federal workers, in August, the Senate approved appropriations legislation providing for a 1.9 percent pay increase for federal workers. However, the House's failure to take up the bill allowed President Trump to sign an executive order on December 28 -- day six of the partial government shutdown -- unilaterally freezing pay for civilian federal employees.

In today's letter, the Senators pushed Trump to change course, highlighting bipartisan support for the Senate-passed 1.9 percent pay raise. They also underscored how freezing pay hinders the federal government's hiring competitiveness with the private sector, and called out the President for not doing more to prioritize human capital investments. The Senators also committed to working towards a pay adjustment for FY19 if President Trump fails to reverse his decision.

"There should be a particular sense of urgency in bolstering, rather than undermining, the competitiveness of the federal workforce considering that the share of federal employees eligible for retirement is expected to jump to 30 percent in five years," the Senators wrote. "As a businessman, we would expect you to understand the importance of human capital investments in recruiting and retaining talented employees. We are deeply troubled that you would abdicate your responsibility to ensure the sustainability of the federal workforce—particularly while so many federal employees are actively working without pay during a shutdown triggered by your own equivocation?"

 

The full text of today's letter is available here and below.

 

Dear Mr. President:

We write to urge you in the strongest possible terms to reverse your decision to freeze pay rates for non-military federal workers in 2019. After months of indecisiveness and mixed signals, your decision further penalizes hard-working federal employees already straining under the impact of the unnecessary government shutdown that began on December 22nd.

Freezing pay for federal workers adds insult to injury for dedicated public servants already subject to political attacks and gamesmanship. In February 2018, your administration’s budget proposed freezing federal civilian pay for 2019. In August 2018, the United States Senate included a 1.9 percent pay raise for civilian federal employees in the appropriations bill that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. This action recognized the many contributions of federal workers and rebuked your unsubstantiated proposal to further hinder their economic security and our collective ability to compete with the private sector. There should be a particular sense of urgency in bolstering, rather than undermining, the competitiveness of the federal workforce considering that the share of federal employees eligible for retirement is expected to jump to 30 percent in five years.

As a businessman, we would expect you to understand the importance of human capital investments in recruiting and retaining talented employees. We are deeply troubled that you would abdicate your responsibility to ensure the sustainability of the federal workforce—particularly while so many federal employees are actively working without pay during a shutdown triggered by your own equivocation.

We strongly encourage you to take immediate action to reverse your ill-advised pay freeze and lift federal workers from this added layer of financial insecurity. Should you choose not to change course, we will continue working on a bipartisan basis to ensure federal workers receive a pay adjustment for Fiscal Year 2019.