WASHINGTON –Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, joined Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and 12 other colleagues to introduce the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act of 2015 (S.554) Tuesday evening. This legislation would guarantee full pay for federal workers at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), who could be furloughed because of a lapse in federal funding or agency shutdown. In December 2014, the Congress passed a fiscal year 2015 funding package that avoided a full government-wide shutdown, but left the Department of Homeland Security and its more than 240,000 federal employees in limbo with only partial-year funding that runs out this Friday, February 27.
“If Congress does not pass a clean Department of Homeland Security funding bill for the balance of the fiscal year, and instead chooses to continue down this irresponsible path toward a shutdown of the Department, we put our national security at risk and would force up to 200,000 men and women at the Department to go without a paycheck,” Sen. Carper said. “Most employees would be asked to continue to do their jobs and protect our nation but on an ‘IOU.’ That includes Border Patrol agents who protect our borders, Transportation Security Administration employees who help keep our skies safe, and Coast Guard crews who patrol our waters. We’ll essentially be asking them to continue to do their jobs, but we’re not going to pay them. A Department funding lapse would also stop paychecks for Coast Guard retirees, some of whom dedicated their entire lives to serving our country. This is not the way we should be treating the public servants who risk their lives to keep us safe. This bill would reverse that injustice and adheres to one of my core principles: the ‘Golden Rule,’ to treat others as we want to be treated. The hardworking men and women at the Department of Homeland Security and the retirees who honorably served our nation should receive the pay they are owed for their service regardless of this reckless and manufactured-funding crisis created by Congress. I am hopeful that this bill won’t be necessary because we in Congress can come together before Friday, as I’ve been urging, and pass a clean funding bill for the Department for the remaining months of the fiscal year. But at a bare minimum, we shouldn’t let the men and women at the Department of Homeland Security suffer just because Congress can’t do its job.”
Sens. Carper and Cardin were joined by Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Tom Kaine and Mark Warner (Both D-Va.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) to introduce the legislation. The full text of the bill is available here.