The following is a media release submitted to Source by the Rep. Katherine Clark’s office.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Congresswoman Katherine Clark, who represents Framingham, Ashland, and Natick, joined with 21 other lawmakers in introducing the Federal Employee Civil Relief Act.
The new legislation would protect federal workers and their families from foreclosures, evictions, and loan defaults during a government shutdown.
“800,000 dedicated federal workers are being held hostage by our President’s senseless, politically motivated demand to build a wall on our southern border,” Congresswoman Clark. “This bill would ensure that their families are protected from hardships – such as evictions and loan defaults – during this shutdown, and any future shutdowns.”
The bill addresses the real threat of federal workers 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.
Modeled after the Servicemembers Relief Act, the legislation will prohibit landlords and creditors from taking action against federal workers or contractors who are hurt by the government shutdown and unable to pay rent or repay loans. The bill would also empower federal workers to sue creditors or landlords that violate this protection.
The Federal Employee Civil Relief Act would safeguard workers impacted by a shutdown from the following:
• Being evicted or foreclosed;
• Having their car or other property repossessed;
• Falling behind in student loan payments;
• Falling behind in paying bills; or
• Losing their insurance because of missed premiums.
The bill was introduced by U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (HI) and Congressman Derek Kilmer (WA-6). The bill co-sponsors include U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and U.S. Representatives Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), Susie Lee (D-Nev.), Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), and Brendan Boyle (D-Penn).
The protection would last during and 30 days following a shutdown to give workers a chance to keep up with their bills. The partial government shutdown, now in its third week, hurts more than 800,000 federal workers in all 50 states.
“People who took an oath to serve their country as federal employees should not have to worry about being evicted, having their car repossessed or going further into debt because of a government shutdown,” said Tony Reardon, President of the National Treasury Employees Union. “I want to commend Sen. Schatz and Rep. Kilmer for having the foresight to introduce legislation that would protect the nation’s federal workforce, many of whom are suffering after nearly three weeks without pay. The Federal Employee Civil Relief Act would give frontline federal workers a reasonable amount of time to catch up on their bills once the shutdown ends and their income is restored. Federal employees around the country are grateful that there are members of Congress who are looking out for them in their time of need.”
“The International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) applauds Senator Schatz and Congressman Kilmer for authoring this critically important bill. This legislation will provide much needed relief to federal employees who may be facing civil actions against them due to a lapse in pay that has resulted because of the government shutdown. It is truly unfortunate that President Trump is using these civilian workers and their families as political pawns to achieve a political goal. The real life ramifications on these working Americans are hard choices between feeding their families, and meeting other financial obligations. The Federal Employee Civil Relief Act will provide impacted workers additional time after a shutdown to meet their financial obligations that would otherwise result in actions against them such as eviction, foreclosure and other civil claims. IFPTE endorses this bill, and urges all Senators to support it,” said Paul Shearon, International President of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers