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Schatz, Kilmer Reintroduce Legislation To Protect Federal Workers, Contractors, Their Families From Losing Their Homes, Falling Behind On Bills During Shutdown

Federal Employee Civil Relief Act Prevents Loss Of Home, Car, Or Health Insurance, Falling Behind On Student Loan Payments, Negative Effects On Credit History

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) reintroduced legislation to protect federal workers and their families from foreclosures, evictions, and loan defaults during a government shutdown. The Federal Employee Civil Relief Act would enable government employees and contractors to postpone payment obligations during a shutdown or debt default and for 30 days afterward.

“Federal workers are dedicated public servants who inspect our food and water, maintain our parks, and care for our veterans. The last choice they should have to make is between feeding their families and keeping the lights on,” said Senator Schatz. “This bill will make sure we protect them from any attempts by Republicans to shut down the government and harm federal workers.”

“No family should be left struggling to pay their bills and provide for their families because of the failure of Congress to do its job,” said Representative Kilmer. “Federal workers aren’t Democrats or Republicans when they show up for work. They are public servants that protect our sailors through their work at the shipyard, that prepare timber sales in the federal forests, that welcome visitors to national parks, that care for our veterans, that ensure citizens can get the services they need, and that keep us safe. We should have their backs. That’s why I’m leading legislation with Senator Schatz to ensure that if federal workers in our region have to deal with a government shutdown, their finances – and their families – are protected.”

During the December 2018 government shutdown, many federal workers received a pay stub with zero dollars on it. This bill addresses the real threat of federal workers and contractors losing their homes, falling behind on student loans and other bills, having their car repossessed, or losing their health insurance because they have been furloughed during a shutdown or required to work without pay. The Federal Employee Civil Relief Act would protect impacted workers from:

  • Being evicted or foreclosed;
  • Having their car or other property repossessed;
  • Falling behind in their student loan payments;
  • Having negative effects on their credit history;
  • Falling behind in paying their bills; or
  • Losing their insurance because of missed premiums.

This protection would last during a shutdown and debt default and 30 days afterwards to give workers a chance to keep up with their bills. In each of these situations, it would enable these workers to apply to a court to temporarily postpone payment obligations or eviction or foreclosure actions. It would allow courts to weigh the equities of both parties to the contract in deciding how contractual obligations should be treated.

The Federal Employee Civil Relief Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

This legislation is supported by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE), Federal Managers Association (FMA), International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), and National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU).