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Despite Fact That Shutdown Has Ended, Hundreds Of Thousands Of People Await Back Pay

Senator Says We Must Avoid Shutdowns In The Future; There Is A Legislative Way To Do It

Schumer: To Truly End The Impact Of The Shutdown, New Yorkers—And Americans—Need Their Paychecks ASAP

On the heels of a needless government shutdown that’s impacted hundreds-of-thousands of families, many from New York, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer called on President Trump, today, to make sure there is no further delay in getting federal workers their back pay. Schumer said the 35-day shutdown left many Americans and New Yorkers struggling to pay for groceries, transportation, rent and other expenses. He said the Administration must determine the fastest way to get back pay into the bank accounts of those impacted, and to find a way to help federal contractors also hurt. The Senator also announced support for a bi-partisan effort being led by Senator Rob Portman, a Republican, to prevent future shutdowns.

“To truly end the negative impacts of the President’s shutdown, New Yorkers and Americans will need their paychecks, and as soon as possible,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “Every day that a federal worker, contractor, or their families is going without their hard-earned pay is a day too many and a risk to our overall economy. Even more importantly, we must avoid shutdowns in the future, because no federal agency should ever be held hostage in this way ever again—and there’s a legislative way, a bi-partisan way to do this, and the next few weeks will provide the opportunity to get it done.”

Schumer cited a recent S&P Global report that says the federal government owes workers impacted by the shutdown nearly $6 billion dollars. The rating agency added that the overall cost to the economy, because of the shutdown, is “likely worse than what we had previously expected.” Schumer says these facts are why getting back pay into the pockets of those who need it demands an ‘all hands on deck’ effort by the feds, and that to truly end the economic impacts of the shutdown, the disbursement of these funds must be achieved as soon as possible.

Schumer also announced his support today for efforts being led by Republican Rob Portman of Ohio and Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, to end future shutdowns. The idea, which is gaining in support, would ensure government funding sustains and that shutdowns don’t happen. Schumer said the next three weeks will provide ample time to lay out the details of this overall plan and hear from both sides in hammering out the legislative specifics.

Schumer detailed the various agencies, programs and industries that were hurt by the shutdown, including all the federal workers that were furloughed and facing financial hardships as a result of the partial government shutdown. Airports, the MTA, Census, NTSB, IRS, Federal Housing Administration, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and the tourism industry all had federal workers impacted by the shutdown, across New York and the country.

The partial government shutdown, which lasted 35 days and stretched into a 5th week, left 800,000 federal workers—thousands in New York—without a paycheck. Many Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents were furloughed and working without pay. Schumer says many TSA workers, especially in NYC, could not afford to go without pay because of the transportation costs to get to work. Furthermore, only 27 of the NTSB’s 401 employees were not furloughed.

These workers were being forced to take a myriad of measures, including sharply cutting discretionary spending and being late paying mortgages, rent and other bills, so they could continue to support themselves and their families, even without a paycheck.

Schumer’s offices across New York received calls from the thousands of people negatively impacted by the partial government shutdown. They shared the measures they took so they could continue working without pay, paying their mortgage, or even putting food on the table. Many Customs and Border Patrol officers who work at JFK could not afford to commute to work, so they stopped going to work or they even resorted to staying at work to avoid any commute at all. Other federal workers told Schumer they were concerned about losing their car insurance, not being able to pay their mortgage or rent, and not being able to pay for other bills such as electric to keep the lights on. These concerns continue until all federal workers get their back pay and the Administration finds a way to pay federal contractors as well.

According to The New York Times, almost two-thirds of federal workers likely have less than two weeks of expenses set aside to live, based on research of the 2013 government shutdown. The New York Times detailed the percentage of federal workers by the number of days’ expenses they can cover with cash reserves: 18% of federal workers can cover less than one day with cash reserves; 28% can cover 1-7 days with cash reserves; 18% can cover one to two weeks with cash reserves; and 36% can cover two weeks or more with cash reserves.

Schumer’s letter to President Trump appears below:

Dear President Trump:

I write on the heels of the bi-partisan agreement to reopen our government and to request that your Administration move at all due speed to quickly process the back pay of hundreds-of-thousands of federal workers who have been furloughed for the past 35 days. I further write in hopes of spurring a solution for the unpaid contractors and small businesses also impacted by the government shutdown.

The length of this shutdown, as you know, was unlike any other. This prolonged crisis left many Americans—and New Yorkers—struggling to buy groceries, pay their rent, mortgage and other bills. None of these workers are to blame, but they sure are now suffering. These federal workers, many with years of service to the Federal government, do their jobs with both a passion for public service and an apolitical mindset. These folks deserve a solution that puts their back pay into their bank accounts as soon as possible, because to truly end the negative impacts of this shutdown, New Yorkers and Americans need their paychecks.

Moreover, seeing this call to action through is of benefit to the overall economy. As detailed in a recent ratings report, this shutdown has cost our economy roughly $6 billion dollars and its effects will likely last for many more months. We owe it to the American people to turn the page on this crisis and do everything possible to return to normal operations, and that effort begins with delivering workers’ back pay.

Thank you for your attention to this matter and for your anticipated cooperation in compensating all federal workers, as well as impacted contractors, who continue to need our help.  


U.S. Senator Charles Schumer