February 24, 2015

Warner, Kaine, 12 Colleagues Introduce Legislation To Protect DHS Employees From A Targeted Republican Shutdown

WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined a dozen colleagues in introducing legislation, the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act of 2015, that would guarantee full pay for federal workers at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), who could be furloughed because of a lapse in federal funding or agency shutdown.

“Now, with terrorist threats around us, the most extreme voices are threatening to shut down a key part of our national government unless they get 100 percent of what they want – regardless of the consequences for our national security or hardworking federal employees. The 17,000 Virginians who work for the Department of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard should not be penalized because of this political gamesmanship,” said Sen. Warner. “These are real people who are working hard to protect our homeland and provide for their families, and they should know that they will be able to put food on the table and pay their mortgages even if this manufactured crisis leads to another government shutdown.”

“It is irresponsible that some in Congress are threatening to shut down DHS at a time when we are facing terrorist threats and talking about the need to strengthen our borders,” said Sen. Kaine. “As we continue urging our colleagues to reach a deal that would fully fund this critical agency, the least we can do for DHS employees – including the 17,000 Virginians who work for DHS and the Coast Guard – is give them the peace of mind that they won’t have to work without pay if a shutdown occurs.”

In December, the Congress passed a $1.014 trillion funding package that avoided a full government shutdown but left the Department of Homeland Security and its more than 240,000 federal employees in limbo with only partial-year funding that expires this Friday, February 27. More than 17,000 Virginians work for DHS and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and most of them could be forced to go without a paycheck if Congress doesn’t act before that deadline.   

This legislation is similar to language passed into law during or following previous government shutdowns, including legislation that Kaine and Warner co-sponsored during the October 2013 shutdown.

The legislation was introduced by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and co-sponsored by Sens. Kaine, Warner, Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), Tom Udall (D-NM), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tom Carper (D-DE), Patty Murray (D-WA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI).