Hawai‘i Lawmakers Demand End to Government Shutdown
On the 20th day of the partial government shutdown, members of Hawaiʻi’s congressional delegation today rallied and marched in solidarity with federal employees, who have been furloughed or forced to work without pay. More than 800,000 federal employees in Hawai‘i and across the country are affected.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and US Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaiʻi) joined members of dozens of unions, including the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Government Employees, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, National Nurses United, and Teamsters, in a rally and march from the AFL-CIO headquarters to the White House.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said:
“Tomorrow, hundreds of thousands of federal employees in Hawai‘i and across the country will not receive a paycheck because of this senseless government shutdown. They are suffering and struggling, worrying about how to pay medical bills, rent, mortgage, and other necessary expenses. These workers are the backbone of our community, providing essential services that ensure our safety, security, and wellbeing. This shutdown is politics at its worse. It is costing taxpayers every day the government is shut down, causing suffering and hardship for families all across the country, and it is making our country less safe. I stand in solidarity with our working people and will continue to fight for them. We cannot wait another day when so much is on the line — the stakes are too high. The Senate needs to pass our bipartisan legislation to reopen the government, and President Trump needs to sign it into law.”
Sen. Mazie Hirono said:
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“We know there are two people who can end this shutdown right now. One is the President, who is an amoral hostage taker. The other is Mitch McConnell, who has had no problem bringing forward a vote to eliminate the Affordable Care Act from millions of Americans, and yet he will not use his power to end this government shutdown to help 800,000 workers and thousands and thousands of contractors get paychecks. We all need to do our jobs. The House has done their job by passing a bill to fund the government last week. You all are doing your jobs by being here today demanding an end to this pointless and destructive shutdown. Now it’s time for Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell to do their jobs and end the shutdown.”
In December, Senator Hirono announced she would donate pay she receives during the partial government shutdown to food banks in all four counties across Hawaiʻi. Yesterday, Senator Hirono spoke on the Senate floor, calling on Senator McConnell to bring forward legislation that would reopen the government.
Today, the Senate unanimously passed S. 24, the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act, which would provide back pay for federal workers affected by the shutdown. Senator Hirono was an original cosponsor of the bill.
Meantime, US Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) announced that the US Senate unanimously passed the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act. The legislation, cosponsored by Sen. Schatz, who is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, will make sure federal employees who are required to work during the government shutdown are given full back pay once the shutdown has ended.
Sen. Schatz said:
“Our federal workers shouldn’t suffer because the President and Republicans in Congress don’t know how to govern. These workers keep our country running, and they deserve the pay they have earned,” said Senator Schatz. “I hope we can quickly get this through the House and to the President so that the men and women who serve our country get fully compensated.”
Federal spending for key government agencies expired on Dec. 21, forcing government workers in those agencies to go without pay. The partial government shutdown, now in its third week, hurts more than 800,000 federal workers in all 50 states, according to Sen. Schatz.
Earlier this week, Senator Schatz introduced the Federal Employee Civil Relief Act, new legislation that would protect federal workers and their families from foreclosures, evictions, and loan defaults during a government shutdown.