WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today voted with a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House of Representatives to pass critical funding bills that would fully reopen the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 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.
Spanberger helped pass funding legislation that would reopen rural development agencies and make sure vulnerable families receive critical Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, ensure the FDA can adequately inspect America’s food supply, and safeguard a strong, robust farm safety net for Central Virginia’s rural communities. Additionally, these bills would restore federal loan approval operations, affordable housing programs, aviation workforce training activities, and highway transportation safety inspections to their pre-shutdown levels. These bills now go to the U.S. Senate for further consideration.
“The shutdown is threatening the security of millions of families in low-income housing, the safety of drivers on our roads, and the livelihoods of farm families in Central Virginia and across rural America. And it’s creating needless financial stress for hundreds of thousands of hardworking federal employees and their families who are either working without pay or currently furloughed. To fix this increasingly serious situation, the House, the Senate, and the President must work together to pass responsible, bipartisan funding legislation that fully reopens our government and strengthens our economy and national security,” said Spanberger. “Today, I voted to pass bipartisan funding legislation that would help end the partial shutdown, protect affordable housing programs, and restore important services for our rural communities—including USDA programs that provide assistance to farmers negatively impacted by the escalating trade war. At a time of great uncertainty in the agriculture economy, the last thing our growers need is more unpredictability. I’m proud to cast this vote today to stand with these farmers, as well as federal employees who deserve to return to work and receive their full salaries. I urge the Senate to act swiftly to pass this vital legislation and vote on further funding bills to reopen our government.”
As farmers begin making their plans ahead of planting season, USDA has closed Farm Service Agency county offices across the country due to the shutdown. As a result, USDA has stopped providing assistance to farmers already affected by the administration’s trade policies. The legislation passed by the U.S. House today—which is almost identical to legislation that already passed the U.S. Senate on an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote in the last Congress—would reopen these agencies and prevent additional impacts on farm families, ag-related businesses, and rural communities.
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. Spanberger cosponsored both bills on her first day in office.
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.