WASHINGTON, DC - This morning, Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05), Members of the National Capital Region, and representatives from the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) held a press conference to discuss the negative impact of the Trump shutdown on the federal workforce. Below is a transcript of his remarks:
“The government, as all of you know, is shut down. Eight hundred thousand people are directly affected. Over 400,000 of them are working, but not getting paid. This shutdown is a negative, stupid, uncalled for, unnecessary, people-affecting process.
“Some years ago Senator McConnell was asked, 'What do you think about shutdowns? Are you supportive?' His response was, 'Of course not! I am the guy that gets us out of shutdowns. Shutdowns, it’s a failed policy,' quote Senator McConnell, August 28, 2014 – just a few short years ago.
"Today, we have on the Floor a bill [to reopen government]. Tomorrow, we’ll have [two bills to reopen government], and [Friday], we’ll have another bill... We will pass four [appropriations] bills that the Senate passed 96–2 to open up government and have our federal employees performing the services for the American people, that the American people want and need.
“Our region, of course, is heavily impacted by this shutdown. Today, we stand together with my colleagues here: Representative [John] Sarbanes, Representative [Eleanor] Holmes Norton, Representative [Gerry] Connolly, Representative [Don] Beyer, Representative [Jamie] Raskin, Representative [David] Trone, Representative [Jennifer] Wexton, and with our good friends Secretary Treasurer of the Federal AFGE, Everett Kelly, and President Randy Erwin of the National Federation of Federal Employees.
“Thank you for standing up for the people working for us, people who are working for the federal employees. You all are standing up for the people who are working for us, the people who are working for the federal government, people who are relied upon every day by millions and millions and millions of Americans.
“Because of this shutdown, SEC regulators cannot protect retirees and investors; FDA food inspectors cannot keep our products safe; our National Parks remain without visitor services and emergency rescue; and security lines at airports are long and causing delays for travelers. There is the possibility that people won’t get their refund checks [from their tax return], which is about $140 billion, the average refund $2,500 that people are relying on and that spur our economy. People are worried about whether they can settle on the purchase of a home or sale of it. Flood insurance is at risk.
“This, as Senator [Mitch] McConnell said, is a ‘failed policy.’ I call on Senator McConnell to pass [the four appropriations] bills that he said he has already passed [in the last Congress] 92-6. That will open a substantial part of government.
“We still have more to do. The House [passed an appropriations package last week] would open all of government, but he’s refused to put them on the Floor. Not because he doesn’t agree with them, but because the President of the United States apparently doesn’t agree and wants to hold hostage not only the 800,000 federal employees, but the hundreds of millions of people who rely on them every day.
“I want to thank Representative [Don] Beyer for introducing legislation guaranteeing retroactive pay for those who have been furloughed or exempted, and which all of us here are proud to co-sponsor… All of us in this regional delegation continue to stand up and fight for our constituents who serve in the federal workforce.
“Mr. President, who’s going to want to come to work for the federal government if they think from time to time they can, for reasons un-understandable to them, they are told ‘You come to work, you are a critical employee, but, by the way, we’re not gonna pay you?’ Who wants to go to work for an institution that does that on a regular basis to its people? We are eroding the credibility of the federal government, and we are eroding ourselves as an employer of people who have great skills and serve our people well.
“We are going to keep doing everything we can in our power to reopen the government so that they can get back to work, get the paychecks they earned, and perform the services for the American people that are critical for them.
"It is now my pleasure to introduce Eleanor Holmes Norton, the Congresswoman from the District of Columbia, who has a very big voice, very great influence in the Congress of the United States, but tragically and very inappropriately, does not have a vote.”