Spanberger Votes with Bipartisan Majority to Reopen Interior Department & EPA, Restore Certainty for Federal Employees
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today voted with a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a funding bill to help end the ongoing government shutdown and to reopen the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Since the partial government shutdown began on December 22, 2018, the EPA has been forced to halt inspections at hazardous chemical sites and waste facilities. And due to staffing furloughs at National Parks, visitor centers and restrooms have been shuttered, and many parks are overflowing with uncollected garbage—while a decreased law enforcement presence is endangering the safety of park visitors.
“This reckless shutdown is causing serious financial harm to federal employees and their families, and we need to reopen our government agencies as soon as possible. Beyond the devastating impacts to hardworking personnel, our National Parks are filling up with trash, drinking water systems are left unprotected, and critical health care services on our reservations are being put at risk,” said Spanberger. “Today, I voted to reopen the Department of the Interior and the EPA, because our clean air and water cannot be left unguarded. This legislation would help staff our National Parks and Monuments—including our district’s parks, which allow Central Virginians to remember significant turning points in Virginia’s history. And it would push back against the senseless elimination of arts and humanities organizations, which enrich the lives of children and adults across the Commonwealth. I’ll continue pushing the House, the Senate, and the President to work together in a bipartisan way to address and end the shutdown crisis, and I’ll keep fighting to protect the salaries of our federal employees.”
The bipartisan funding bill rejects proposed budget cuts to the EPA, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Indian Education, and the Indian Health Service. Additionally, the legislation rejects the administration’s proposals to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Yesterday, Spanberger helped pass bipartisan bills that would fully reopen the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development—and provide much-needed certainty to their employees and their families.
Last week, Spanberger joined a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives to pass bipartisan legislation that would end the ongoing shutdown and fully reopen the government. The funding package would fully fund most of the federal government through September 30, 2019, and the bill maintains current funding levels for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security through February 8, 2019. The legislation also included a provision Spanberger helped introduce to retroactively restore pay that federal employees have been denied during the partial shutdown.
Since December 22, 2018, more than 450,000 federal employees have worked without pay, including more than 41,000 federal law enforcement and correctional officers and up to 88 percent of all Department of Homeland Security employees. Additionally, more than 380,000 federal employees have been furloughed during the government shutdown, including more than 80 percent of National Park Service employees.
On her first day in office, Spanberger helped introduce two bills that would make sure federal workers receive backpay once the ongoing government shutdown ends and that Members of Congress would not receive their regular salaries during a shutdown. To assist federal employees and their families negatively impacted by the shutdown, Spanberger helped introduce bipartisan legislation—led by U.S Representative Don Beyer (D-VA-8)—that would retroactively pay federal employees that have gone without pay during the shutdown. Additionally, she helped introduce a bill—led by U.S. Representative Kurt Schrader (D-OR-5)—that would reduce the pay of Members of Congress if a shutdown occurs.
And earlier last week, then-Rep.-Elect Spanberger sent a letter requesting that her Congressional salary be withheld until the government fully reopens and all federal employee pay is restored. Click here to read her full letter.