WASHINGTON, D.C. — In her first speech on the floor of the U.S. House, U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today shared the story of a constituent facing financial hardship and growing uncertainty due to the ongoing government shutdown.
During her speech, Spanberger also called on the U.S. House, U.S. Senate, and the President to work together to fully reopen the government and provide certainty to federal employees and their families. Click here to watch her full speech. The full text of her speech is below:
“Mr. Speaker, I would like to sound the alarm about this shutdown and how it is harming the people of Central Virginia. Across the country, hundreds of thousands of federal employees are working without pay, including critical law enforcement personnel. The best way to illustrate the destructive effects of this shutdown is to share a story from one of my constituents in Virginia’s 7th District. She said to us:
“’My husband is a federal employee and the sole provider for our family, and right now, we don’t know when he’ll get paid. Because I got sick last year, we now have less money in the bank, and we’re not sure how long we can hold on. While he could make more money in the private sector, my husband believes that working in a federal job is his way of making a difference through public service—and every day, he is proud to go into the office at 5 AM to do what he can to serve his country.
“’One of the hardest days of his life was when he came home and said that earlier that day, he had told those under him they were furloughed— just days before Christmas. We are begging you to reopen the government.’
“This story demonstrates the importance of fixing this mess and reopening the government. I encourage my colleagues and leadership to act now in a bipartisan way to protect the livelihoods of these hardworking 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. 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.