tv U.S. House of Representatives House Debate on Federal Worker Compensation CSPAN January 11, 2019 8:31pm-9:09pm EST
>> from paycheck to paycheck and now they approach this day on having moved from paycheck to no check. employees 00 fellow ill not receive their first paycheck of this new year. tear lifting us up as a nation should not be held hostage to olitics as a result. 380,000 federal employees have been furloughed and locked out of their offices. another 420,000 federal employees, hardworking employees working without pay. we will see them at our airports. we'll see them working today
and tomorrow and have been for he last many days without pay. some even had to cancel already scheduled vacation days or sick leave to report to work. these 800,000 men, and women include personnel at the federal aviation administration , the bureau of prisons, the federal bureau of investigation , the department of homeland security, the food and drug administration, and departments of agriculture, treasury and justice. these are the men and women who keep our country safe, ensure the safety of our airports and food, protect our national parks and, yes, keep our economy moving.
senate bill 24 will provide back pay to federal employees furloughed during this shutdown and potential future shutdowns. the measure also would allow essential employees to use their annual leave instead of having to cancel already scheduled and approved vacation plans. many federal employees are suffering. but not only are they suffering, mr. speaker, their children are suffering and they are in pain and they're worried and they're scared. you see, they have mortgages and car loans to pay, daycare expenses to cover, and food to put on the table. and even while they struggle to pay these bills, furloughed employees face the stress and
anxiety of not knowing whether or not they will be paid when the shutdown ends. the least we can do is to relieve that uncertainty. the president claims that the federal employees support this pointless shutdown. he also had the nerve to say, why don't they just adjust? adjust with what? and how? and so i've not heard that from a single federal employee that they support this shutdown. what they want to do is to get back to work serving the american people. and what they are saying over and over again is, government, do not hurt us. help us. do not hurt us. help us. so promising they will receive
back pay once shutdown ends is the least we can do. finally, mr. speaker, this bill passed the senate with every single senators' consent. and prutch has indicated he will -- and president trump has indicated he will sign it. i urge every member of the house to do the same and support this bill. and let's end this shutdown and get the government open and working again. with that, mr. speaker, i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maryland reserves. the gentleman from montana is recognized. mr. gianforte: i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. gianforte: mr. speaker, i rise today in support of s. 24, the government employee fair treatment act of 2019. this bill is a promise to our dedicated civil servants, both those forced to the sidelines and those still hard at work without pay.
when the house democrats stopped using federal employee's livelihoods as a political football to fund the government, including border security, paychecks will be issued. mr. speaker, to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, we get it. you don't like the president. you made your point. it's now time to stop messing around. we need to fund the government so we can make good on the promise in this bill, and let's be clear. this bill does not stop the immediate pain of missed paychecks. under s. 24, federal employees still do not get paid until the funding bills are passed and the government is reopened. federal employees will still struggle to find ways to put food on the table and make ends meet until the house democrats agree to negotiate in good faith. this bill also does not reimburse taxpayers for all the missed government services, like our national parks and
indian health service. every day this shutdown continues, taxpayers are on the hook for paying federal employees for jobs they are legally barred from doing. every day this shutdown continues, border patrol agents and other federal employees are forced to work without pay. and every day this shutdown continues, many members of congress are still getting paid. i've instructed the administrative officials with the house to withhold my pay until the partial shutdown ends and until border patrol agents and other federal employees are paid. members of congress should not get paid when portions of the federal government are shut down. there are other pieces of legislation that would pay federal employees who are working during this partial shutdown, and there are others that would hold congress accountable for not doing its job. i will support the government employee fair treatment act,
but i urge my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, end the games, get back to work, let's get the job done. mr. speaker, i reserve the remainder of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from montana reserves. the gentleman from maryland is recognized. mr. cummings: mr. speaker, i yield one minute to the distinguished speaker of the house, congresswoman nancy pelosi. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized. for one minute. the speaker: thank you very much, mr. speaker. and mr. assistant speaker. i thank mr. cummings for bringing this important legislation to the floor in very expeditious time. the senate passed it by unanimous consent yesterday, and here we are today on the first day that some of our federal employees will miss heir paycheck that congress is saying and guaranteeing that workers will be paid, not only
for this shutdown, but god forbid if we have any future ones, that their pay will be guaranteed. . i support the bill and glad it has strong bipartisan support as it did in the senate, and that the president has given the impression that he will sign the bill. it ensures that 800,000 federal employees are going without pay because of the senseless shut down will ultimately get the back pay they deserve. but it's scarce consolation for these workers who are desperate to make ends meet right now. they are paychecks are going to be late, but they must pay their bills on time and in full. the impact of a missed paycheck is catastrophic in the lives of these americans when they can't pay their mortgage, their rent, their utilities bill, their car payments, children's tuition on time, the list goes on. it affects their credit rating.
and it affects the credit rating of the united states of america. i'm particularly concerned about the impact it has on our veterans. large percentage of the federal work force are veterans. they have taken their commitment to public service and the military to public service on the civilian side. we don't do any favor for our friends, our veterans and military families, if we affect their credit rating. so today the press reported that workers are desperately taking their -- taking to the internet to sell some of their household items and other things. sometimes their very reduced price. for just a couple can of dollars just to pay their bills. -- just --couple of dollars just to pay their bills. this is just not right. people who work, we say two things come to work and don't get paid, or shut them out so they can't come to work.
while they are not getting paid, again, thousands of these men and women are expected to show up for work. sending these workers their paycheck late is wrong. we keep saying that. it's wrong. but since there is a guarantee that they will be getting paid, i would hope that the commercial banks, the banks in our country would follow the lead of some of the credit unions by giving interest free loans right now to these families so that they can pay their bills in time and they can be respected for the work they do or anticipated to do. this shut down, by the way, soon to become the longest in history. it's creating chaos in our communities. it fails to meet the -- fails to have us, the government, meet the needs of the american people. we're endangering the food -- safety of our food supply, the security of our airlines, the eviction of vulnerable families is affected.
the support of our farmers. for their support systems as well as food stamps for the hungry and tax returns refunds, tax refunds for the american people. and the ability of the i.r.s. to supply information to taxpayers who want to pay their taxes but need guidance. it's a needless crisis that is inflicting pain on the american people. democrats support effective border security. we honor our oath of office to protect and defend, to protect and defend our borders, our country, our people, and our constitution. we need to look at the facts, according to the d.e.a., when the president says oh, we have to stop the drugs coming into he country, the country, well, let's look at the facts. the d.e.a. says that almost all, 90% of illicit drugs coming into the country come in
through legal ports of entry. that's the president's concern and it's a legitimate concern that we all share, we need to build the infrastructure, increase the size of infrastructure of the legitimate ports of entry. those are ports of entry for immigration, for trade, and to stop the unwelcome in terms of drugs, contraband, and weapons coming into our country. more infrastructure, improve the roads there to facilitate. we also need the technology exists, we have all committed that we would pay whatever it is, $400 million or more, for the infrastructure -- the technology to scan the cars. scan the cars for the drugs and other contraband. again, technology is our friend in this, and it is very effective, proven, proven way
to protect us from those intrusions. we can hire more personnel, which we must do. there are thousands of unfilled positions with the border patrols. we must have more people to do the job there. much of what i'm saying here is what the administration, department of homeland security, asked for. and we said yes. in the appropriation bills. and here we're having that fight later. and we can have more investment in innovation -- and innovation to detect unauthorized crossings. we don't need, the president first described as a concrete wall, 30 feet high, paid for by mexico. cross out all of the above. it's not that. but the fact is, spending money on whatever that is that the president's describing it now as is an opportunity cost for
doing what we know will work to secure our border, all of our borders. all of our borders. there is a humanitarian challenge for us at the border that we have to deal with in a way that is consistent with our values. but also protects our border. what the president is proposing, in fact, he has exacerbated the problem with his cool policies of taking children out of the arms of their parents, separating families, the list goes on. but to the point of securing e border, in a strong, cost-effective, values-based way, democrats have made that proposal, proposals have bipartisan support. let me just say just before this bill came up on the floor, pass the legislation to
a bill, passed by the senate on the -- to open up the department of interior and related agencies there. we have said to the republicans and to the president we will accept ideas, good ideas wherever they come from. these ideas came from the united states senate, controlled by the republicans, up until this new congress, within the last month. they controlled -- they still do control the senate. and they put legislation on the floor of the senate in a mini bus that passed 92-6. we said let's take your language, let's embrace your language, let's pass it on the house, and you once again pass your own language. they won't take yes for an owns. -- for an answer. that might be part of a legitimate debate. but why do you have to shut down government? do you not have confidence -- i
say to the president, don't you have confidence in your own ideas that you have to shut down government to increase your leverage and then threaten to take extraordinary measures when the answer is very simple, let's open up government, let's have a civilized debate, and let's do so in a way that honors our values as we protect our borders and meet the needs of the american people. i urge a yes and i'm glad we'ring going to come out of this with a bipartisan vote. again i thank mr. cummings for his extraordinary leadership in so many ways. most recently on this legislation. yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the distinguished gentlewoman yields. members are reminded to refrain from engaging in personalities toward the president. the gentleman from maryland reserves. mr. cummings: i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, the gentleman from texas, mr. hurd, will control the time for the minority. the gentleman from texas is
recognized. mr. hurd: thank you, madam speaker. i'd like to thank my friend, the distinguished gentleman from the great state of maryland for expeditiously bringing this piece of legislation to the floor because this is an important piece of legislation that ensures all federal employees receive back pay once this government shutdown is over. last week while flying back to washington i spoke with t.s.a. agents concerned about their paychecks and uncertainty created by this shut down. guaranteeing back pay is the least we can do to give more certainty to almost a million federal employees, including many in my district, who are missing their first paycheck today. i understand their concerns because my pay is being withheld during sh this shut down in solidarity with federal workers. we all need to come together and find a bipartisan and realistic solution to reopen the government. if we're going to talk about border security, then the brave men and women who are on the ground every day securing our
border should get paid. border security and immigration have been a contentious issue for a long time, but the only way we solve big problems here in washington is by working together. we need to push pause on requesting specific conditions before talks resume. we need to lay down our swords and be willing to find not a democratic solution, not a republican solution, but a solution for all americans. i urge my colleagues to stand with federal workers and join me in supporting this commonsense piece of legislation which has passed unanimously by the senate last night. thank you, madam speaker. and i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman is recognized. mr. cummings: madam speaker, i yield to the distinguished gentleman from virginia, and a member of our committee, mr. connolly, two minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. connolly: i thank the
speaker, and i thank my dear friend from maryland for his leadership. i certainly support this bill to keep our federal employees whole. i must say when i hear discussion and when i heard the words of our friend and colleague from montana, i thought are we rewriting history? this isn't about who likes president trump or who does not. where is the outrage in this body? when do we finally say enough? we had a bill, a bipartisan bill that passed the senate, it was ready to pass here. the white house said they would sign it. and because four, five right wing talking heads scared the president of the united states, he pulled the plug. democrats didn't do that. republicans didn't do it. he did it. and now you are defending him,
enabling him. even when he says, i never said mexico would pay for the wall. even though we have 212 explicit references in the last three years in which he said precisely that. nd meanwhile, because of that, votes which came out o of the right field -- folks which came out of the right field, 800,000 federal employees and all american citizens are held hostage. when do we come together? and say enough? when do we stand up for those federal employees who are civil servants, who serve our constituents? and when do we say this shut down threatens the security of the united states? it is wrong. and we have had enough. so it's good that we're going
to keep our federal employees whole this the shut down ends, but let's come together and make sure this shut down ends. even at the risk of taking on the president of the united tates politically. at the last analysis, can can can we not come together and -- can can we not come together and do the right thing for the american people? i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields. the gentleman from maryland. mr. cummings: i reserve the balance of my time, madam speaker. the speaker pro tempore: reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from texas is recognized. mr. hurd: madam speaker, i'm going to continue to reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from maryland. mr. cummings: madam speaker, i yield my distinguished friend and gentleman from the state of maryland, mr. rass conditions, two minutes. -- raskin, two minutes. mr. raskin: thank you very much, mr. chairman.
800,000 american workers, 800,000 workers in our federal work force have either been sent home and furloughed with no check, or told to report to work with no check. with no payment. i have got air traffic controllers living in my district, mr. chairman, madam speaker, who have had to take money out of their kids' 529 college funds, have had to take money out of their own retirement funds, in order to pay their family bills. there is a 10% penalty for doing that. who is going to pay them back the 10%? is the president of the united states going to do that? what about my constituents, i have tens of thousands of federal workers, what about my constituents being forced to put their mortgage on a credit card this month? who is going to pay them back? what about the dishonor and humiliation brought on our government by this?
the president of the united states didn't do this to hundreds of thousands of workers in putin's russia or in hungary or the philippines. this is our people that he did this to. this is our workers who he sent home with no paycheck. people are texting me, they are emailing me their pay stubs today which say zero dollars gross. zero dollars net. after having worked 40 or 50 hours this week. i have scientists in my district working on preventing outbreaks of e. coli contamination, salmonella, insect infestation of our food supply and they have been told not to go to work. madam speaker, this is an outrage and a scandal. at the very least we can pass on a unanimous bipartisan basis this legislation to try to repair the damage by saying that every federal worker will get back every penny that he or she is owed by the united states government. . we need make sure that if this
ever happens again, if the president ever holds the federal work force hostage, the federal work force will not be the ones who have to pay for it. we should pass this immediately and we should reopen the government immediately. mr. cummings: madam speaker, i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from texas is recognized. >> madam speaker, i'm going to continue to reserve my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from maryland. mr. cummings: madam speaker, i now yield one minute to the distinguished majority leader of this great house from the state of maryland, congressman steny hoyer. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maryland is recognized for one minute. mr. hoyer: i want to thank the chairman of the government reform committee, mr. cummings. i also want to thank mr. hurd.
who, if he was in the leadership, this shutdown would not be happening. if he were in the leadership, this bill would not be required. and i thank him for bringing it to the floor with mr. cummings. i also thank him for his leadership in trying to get this government open. madam speaker, the 800,000 federal employees affecteded by this shutdown deserve -- affected by this shutdown deserve to know that they will be paid once it ends. i was with a veteran last night who -- a veterans organization, who told me the highest incident of veteran suicide is brought about by financial instability. fear of being able to pay their bills. fear of being able to support their families. fear of being unable to pay their mortgage. that's what this bill is about. to give confidence and stability to those who work for us. who work for the american
people. that's why this bill is coming to the floor. i want to congratulate senators warner and cane from virginia and senators kardon and van hollen from maryland -- carden and van holden from maryland for shepherding this legislation through the united states senate. normally i'd be proud to bring this bill to the floor. but none of us should be proud that this bill is else in. no one should have to go without a paycheck -- necessary. no one should have to go without a paycheck just because the president thinks he can bully congress into giving him what he wants. taking them hostage in return for a ransom of agreeing with him. the american people and the hardworking federal employees who serve them should not be held hostage until they give their hard-earned tax dollars to pay for an expensive and ineffective border wall for which the president promised mexico would pay. so here we are, madam speaker. 21 days into what is now the longest shutdown in our history. with 800,000 americans missing today, because
of donald trump. how shameful. how sad. i hope all of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will join me in supporting this bill. i thank both parties for bringing this bill forward. it was a bipartisan bill in the senate and i'm sure it will be a bipartisan bill here. because it is not whether you agree with the shutdown, it is whether you agree to being fair to our federal employees. it's about whether you recognize and value the service and contribution of our federal workers. i am proud, madam speaker, to represent 62,000 federal employees. i am proud to represent them and i am proud of the work they do. they deserve better. frankly. than what they've gotten from the congress over the last eight years of the republican majority. i made the point a little earlier today, this is a strategy shutting down government -- strategy, shutting down government.
the government was shut down 10 times between 1981 when i came here and 1995. an average shutdown of 1.9 days. because you couldn't reach agreement, was going back and forth, but the government was open. but not a strategy to hold hostage for many, many days and weeks our federal employees until the other side did what you told them was absolutely essential for them to do. or you were going to hold hostages. they deserve better than this shutdown. as do the millions of americans impacted by the lack of services provided by these federal employees. this bill would provide a permanent solution to this problem. not only providing for back-pay during this shutdown, but guaranteeing the federal employees will get paid if any future shutdowns occur. i might also observe, although it is not in this bill, it will be our intention and i look forward to working with mr. hurd on this, that there are state,
county and municipal employees also impacted, which we lie on the flow of federal funds to -- rely on the flow of federal funds to pay their salaries, that i hope we'll address in the future of the i look forward to working with mr. cummings and mr. hurd toward that end. meanwhile, democrats will keep working. we'll keep working to end the current shutdown, and i call once more on leader mcconnell and president trump to do their part and reopen the people's government. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. mr. cummings: i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from texas is recognized. mr. hurd: thank you, madam speaker. i'm looking forward to working with the distinguished gentleman from maryland on making sure all employees are whole and i will continue to yield the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. mr. cummings: madam speaker, i yield to the distinguished lady from texas, congresswoman sheila
jackson lee. two minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman from texas is recognized for two minutes. ms. jackson lee: madam speaker, it's a pleasure to be able to speak on the floor and thank you for your leadership. i thank the gentleman from maryland, mr. cummings, chair of the oversight committee, for his leadership. i thank my colleague from texas as well. and i would only say that we can't say it enough. thank you, chairman cummings, they are that payless. today they are no-check. today they are no more money today. they are broke today. 800,000 hardworking federal employees, their families, small businesses, all of those who work every day to contribute.
as i go home today, i will be meeting with, today and tomorrow, federal employees. i want them to know that my office is open to be able to help them. 35,000-plus employees in texas, federal employees, 9,000 in the treasury. 5,700 in homeland security. now some 51,000 screeners who are not getting their dollars. and i have to pause for this one. the coast guard is not being paid. the very people that the president went to the border to celebrate, that they are trying to stop the multitudes of criminals, most of them under 10 years old, the coast guard on the waters of this nation, the coast guard that rescued 1,000-plus in katrina, that rescued desperate houstonians in harvey are not being paid.
they are military that's not being paid because they are under homeland security. this bill is crucial to ensure that those hardworking americans get paid, that they can use their personal leave, that no matter what happens, they will get reimbursed. and that we will make sure that we will not wait on their pay period, but they'll get it immediately. right now it is crucial for us to pass this bill, to ensure the integrity of all of us. with that, i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman has yielded. the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from texas is recognized. mr. hurd: i continue to reserve, madam speaker. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman -- mr. cummings: madam speaker. if the gentleman has no further speakers, i'm prepared to close. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from texas is recognized. mr. hurd: madam speaker, i'd like to inform my friend from maryland, i have no further speakers and am prepared to
close. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. cummings: the gentleman may close. mr. hurd: madam speaker, as the distinguished gentleman from the commonwealth of virginia said, we should make sure these federal employees are made whole. these are men and women that are making their own sacrifices to ensure that our country continues to operate. and i would recognize and suggest to all my colleagues, to support this piece of legislation that passed unanimously last night from the senate. with that, madam speaker, i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. mr. cummings: madam speaker, i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. cummings: madam speaker, first of all, i want to thank the distinguished gentleman, mr. hurd, for his cooperation in working with us and always approaching these issues with a commonsense attitude. and always striving for
bipartisanship. and we look forward to working with him and others, to continue to support our federal employees. as this shutdown drags on, it is wreaking havoc, madam speaker, with the lives of brightic federal workers -- patriotic federal workers who just want to get back to work and get a paycheck. hundreds of dedicated public ervants have called my office, this shutdown goes on record as one of the longest in history. worried and anxious about how they will pay their bills. for example, the shutdown is having a dire effect on 30-year employees at the i.r.s. whose finances and health are being imperiled. she has multiple sclerosis and needs a monthly injection that has a $50 co-pay, which she simply cannot afford. she hasn't paid her mortgage and
her lender won't give her a break. this is not an isolated example. thousands of federal employees face similar circumstances. and with that, madam speaker, we must end this shutdown and send our federal employees back to work as soon as possible. and i urge all members of the house to vote in favor of bill. house passed the the bill may go to the white house on monday for the president's signature. house speaker nancy pelosi met for a photo with committee chairs for the 116th congress. during this meeting she re-emphasized the need for the president to reopen government so both sides could discuss ways to improve border security.