WASHINGTON, D.C. - Members of Maryland's Congressional delegation have co-sponsored legislation that would guarantee that federal workers who were furloughed because of the government shutdown would receive their full pay.
U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (Both D-Md.), and Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (Both D-Va.) have introduced the "Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act." The language in this bill is the language used to provide pay retroactively to workers furloughed in the last government shutdown 17 years ago.
"Hardworking federal employees did not cause our fiscal crises nor did they contribute to the legislative gridlock, but once again they are being asked to pay the heaviest price toward a resolution," said Cardin in a statement: Federal workers have endured a three-year pay freeze and ‘contributed' over $90 billion to deficit reduction before sequestration actually cut their salaries.
"Now, upwards of 800,000 federal workers are being furloughed - again - and the rest of federal workforce is being compelled to work without knowing when and if they will get paid. It is our responsibility to assure these public servants, mostly middle class and struggling to get by like so many other Americans, will be made whole again when it finally ends. It is the right thing to do."
Mikulski added in a statement: "Right now hundreds of thousands of hardworking Americans, including thousands of Marylanders are going without pay because House Republicans have decided to shutdown the government with their 'my way or the highway approach. What they are doing is just plain dangerous. It's dangerous for our furloughed workers and their families and for our economy as a whole. I will continue working with Senator Cardin to assure our dedicated federal employees receive the pay they deserve."
The House version of the bill (H.R. 3223) is sponsored by Congressman Jim Moran (D-Va.), and has 32 cosponsors so far including Maryland Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), John Sarbanes (D-Md.), Donna Edwards (D-Md.), and John Delaney (D-Md.).
Ruppersberger said House Republicans are "holding the government hostage" after attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act failed through the legislative process, the electoral process and the judicial process.
"The effects of this shutdown will be felt acutely here in Maryland, home to more than 140,000 federal employees and contractors," said Ruppersberger in a statement. "Many of these hard-working men and women – including my staff and constituents – are now facing indefinite furloughs, jeopardizing their ability to support their families, their communities and their country…
"Enough is enough. It is time for both parties to set aside ideological leanings, end this shutdown by passing a clean government funding bill and move forward with responsible solutions to our budget challenges."
Maryland's lone Republican congressman, Rep. Andy Harris, said the GOP will continue to try to restore temporary funding to parts of the government that "were inappropriately shut down by the President," while also trying to delay portions of the health care reform legislation.
"While the House waits for the Senate and President to agree to start the negotiations necessary to end the partial shutdown, the House will continue to attempt to end the special treatment of big businesses and members of Congress and their staff under Obamacare," Harris said in a statement.
Gov. Martin O'Malley said the state has flexibility on using funds the General Assembly set aside to lessen the impact of sequestration and his office is "actively assessing all of our options so that we can minimize the harmful effects of prolonged Congressional recklessness on Maryland families and businesses."
"The federal government shutdown that Congressional Republicans forced upon us will needlessly hurt hardworking Maryland moms and dads who are federal employees; harm small and large businesses across Maryland -- including health, aerospace, and defense companies; and threaten our State's budget in a time of economic recovery," said O'Malley in a statement.