Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) spoke at a press conference today to call attention to the effects of the Republican government shutdown on federal employees. Other speakers included Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), other members of the regional delegation, National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley, American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox and federal workers.
Norton's statement follows.
"After months of furloughs and a third year of pay freezes, about the only thing that had not happened to federal employees was a government shutdown. The worst happened at midnight when the Republicans furloughed much of the federal workforce. Federal employees feed the entire American economy and ensure the wellbeing of Americans across the nation, nowhere more so than in this D.C. federal headquarters region, home to the largest concentration of federal workers in the country. Throwing federal workers off the job is denying services to the American people. Federal employees soldiered on to deliver services not withstanding multiple furloughs. Now Republicans have taken them from their jobs, and services from the American people.
"I have two important groups to attend to -- D.C. and federal employees. The D.C. local government here also delivers services directly into the homes and hands of our residents. But many of those local services depend upon the federal employees who are off the job today. Mayor Gray has taken steps to keep the D.C. government open, but the contingency funds he is using could run out in a couple of weeks. If federal workers should not be punished because Congress did not do its job, surely a shutdown of the District of Columbia would have punitive effects no one can condone. No Republican or Democrat desires the unintended effect of shutting down the local government only because D.C.'s local balanced budget has not cleared the Congress. Yet, the city government is holding shutdown at bay only because of Mayor Gray's temporary solution. I thank the 120 members who have signed on to my letter urging congressional leaders to pass legislation to keep the District government open during the federal shutdown.
"Both federal and D.C. employees are innocent bystanders to a congressional crisis. They deserve to be at least partially rescued from the Congress who brought it on. We must quickly approve the bipartisan Moran-Wolfe bill, which I have cosponsored, to retroactively pay furloughed federal employees, who rely on their pay checks to pay their bills and feed their families."