Proposed legislation would protect federal workers

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii and U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer of the 6th Congressional District are introducing the Federal Employee Civil Relief Act to protect federal workers and their families from foreclosures, evictions and loan defaults during a government shutdown.

The partial government shutdown is now in its third week.

“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,” said Kilmer, a Democrat from Gig Harbor whose district includes the North Olympic Peninsula.

“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’ responsibility to help out the families most affected. This bill gives them some much needed relief.”

Schatz’s bill in the Senate has 11 co-sponsors. Kilmer will introduce companion legislation in the House with nine co-sponsors. All are Democrats.

Modeled after the Servicemembers Relief Act, the Schatz-Kilmer legislation would prohibit landlords and creditors from taking action against federal workers or contractors who are hurt by the government shutdown and unable to pay rent or repay loans.

The bill also would empower federal workers to sue creditors or landlords that violate this protection.

The Federal Employee Civil Relief Act would safeguard workers impacted by a shutdown 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.

• Losing their insurance because of missed premiums.

The protection would last during and 30 days after a shutdown to give workers a chance to catch up with their bills.

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