Mariel Saez, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor this morning in support of H.R. 3223, the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act. Below are his remarks and a link to the video:
“I want to thank the gentleman for yielding and I want to thank my colleague Frank Wolf. There's no harder advocate, more effective advocate for federal employees than Frank Wolf. He and I have worked together for over 32 years on behalf of the interests of those people who work for the American people every day to make them safer, healthier, more informed.
“And I want to thank, myself, the Majority Leader. I want to thank the Ranking Member. I want to thank the gentleman who offers his support of this bill and I want to thank my colleagues.
“Mr. Speaker, we are five days into a government shutdown caused by -- well I'm not sure what it's caused by. As a result, approximately 800,000 middle-class workers who serve the American people are furloughed without pay. All of us talk about working Americans, how we want to make sure they have the jobs that they need to support themselves and their families. Our federal employees have already been asked to accept COLA freezes for the past four years and they have endured changes to retirement benefits as well as the furloughs imposed by the irrational policy of the sequester.
“I'm glad to see the Chairman of Appropriations Committee on the Floor. There has been no more stronger voice on the irrationality of the sequester than my friend from Kentucky.
“Only my colleagues on the other side of the aisle can say with certainty - if they can - when our federal government will be able to go back to work. But the American people are already noticing their absence, whether safeguarding our national parks, performing groundbreaking medical research at N.I.H., overseeing disaster relief efforts after a storm or wildfire, making sure nutrition assistance gets to the children and seniors who need it or enforcing the laws that keep our communities safe. Federal employees make a critical, a critical contribution to the country and communities and the American people they serve.
“We saw their selfless nature and devotion to country on display this Thursday when, as the gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Wolf, said, when U.S. Capitol police personnel, federal employees who are deemed essential for security and are currently on the job without the promise of pay, protected all of us who work in the Capitol complex during a security incident.
“I'm proud to represent 62,000 hard-working federal employees in my district. Yet most of the federal employees are not in the Washington metropolitan area. Eighty percent of them are dispersed throughout this country, serving in every area, every community of our great land. Many of whom serve in civilian defense roles and critical military institutions, like at Pax River, Indian Head, and Webster Field in my district, but each one of you can name a facility in your district.
“One of them wrote expressing his frustration at those who are preventing the government from reopening. He writes, and I quote: ‘I’m quite tired of being punished when my only crime is supporting our great nation with my labor.’
“And I want to thank my Republican colleagues for recognizing that pain and unfairness and bringing this bill to the Floor. I hope all of us will support this bill.
“Another constituent of mine who works at Pax River said this: ‘Please continue to work toward a solution that ends the furloughs for all federal employees affected by the shutdown, not just a select few.’ As we are doing.
“Mr. Speaker, we must reopen our government and could do so today, this hour. But until the Majority allows a vote on the bill to reopen the government, let us at least provided the dedicated, patriotic federal employees who want nothing more than to go back to work with the peace of mind that they will still be paid for their service.
“I want to thank Mr. Moran. Mr. Moran, like Mr. Wolf, has been an extraordinary leader on behalf of federal employees. Congressman Connolly. Steve Lynch sits here. Others on the Republican side who have been aligned on that effort as well.
“Surely, surely, we, the board of directors of the greatest enterprise on earth can take care of our employees and give them confidence that they deserve. And I thank the Speaker for the additional time. And I yield back the balance of the time I don’t have.”