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There are approximately 800,000 federal workers who are either furloughed or working without pay thanks to the government shutdown. The Federal Housing Administration has already asked the mortgage industry to help those workers with their mortgages, but a group of nearly two dozen congressional Democrats want more protection than that.
This week, a group of 22 Democrats introduced legislation in both the Senate and the House of Representatives that would protect federal workers and their families from foreclosures, evictions, and loan defaults during a government shutdown.
The legislation, titled the “Federal Employee Civil Relief Act,” would prohibit landlords and creditors from taking action against federal workers or contractors who are affected by a government shutdown and unable to pay their rent, mortgages, or other loans.
The bill would also give federal workers the ability to sue creditors and landlords who violate that protection.
Specifically, the bill would protect unpaid federal workers from the following: being evicted or foreclosed; having their car or other property repossessed, falling behind in student loan payments; falling behind in paying bills; or losing their insurance because of missed premiums.
According to the Democrats, this protection would last during a government shutdown and for the 30 days following the resolution of a shutdown to allow federal workers to catch up on their bills.
The effort is being led by Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, and Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Washington.
“While the President and Senate Republicans struggle to get their act together, real people are suffering,” Schatz said in a statement. “Right now, thousands of federal workers and their families are struggling to pay rent and make ends meet. It’s absolutely unacceptable. Our bill will protect federal workers and make sure they aren’t harmed because of a political stunt.”
Kilmer added: “Across 800,000 kitchen tables today, hardworking people are trying to figure out how to pay bills and provide for their families without an income. Federal workers are public servants, they deserve better than being treated like pawns in a negotiation. This shutdown is wrong, and it’s time to reopen the government – but until that happens, it’s Congress’s responsibility to help out the families most affected. This bill gives them some much needed relief.”
Joining Schatz in the Senate are Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, Maggie Hassan, D-New Hampshire, Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin, Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Mark Warner, D-Virginia, and Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada.
And joining Kilmer in the House are Reps. Sean Maloney, D-New York, Gerald Connolly, D-Virginia, Susie Lee, D-Nevada, Cheri Bustos, D-Illinois, Dan Kildee, D-Michigan, Ann McLane Kuster, D-New Hampshire, Debbie Dingell, D-Michigan, Brendan Boyle, D-Pennsylvania, and Katherine Clark, D-Massachusetts.
“Federal workers are already suffering the consequences of the government shutdown. I’ve heard from many of my constituents facing rent and mortgage payments, student loan bills, and childcare costs that they don’t know how they’ll afford without a paycheck,” Van Hollen said. “This is unacceptable. No federal employee should be punished for a government shutdown they had nothing to do with. I will continue working to reopen the federal government and support our civil servants during this unnecessary Trump shutdown.”