Moran Believes Shutdown Could Be Lengthy
Congressman urges federal workers to conserve their financial resources
U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) urged federal workers to keep an eye on their purse strings in the face of a potential government shutdown during an emergency town hall meeting Thursday night at Francis C. Hammond Middle School in Alexandria.
Moran’s 8th District is home to a large chunk of the 100,000 Washington area government employees and contractors who would be affected by a furlough, which would occur if a new federal budget deal is not adopted by midnight Friday.
“If you are a federal employee, I think you need to start conserving whatever financial resources you have,” Moran warned. “Be very careful about large purchases. Make sure you have enough money for at least the mortgage, or the monthly rent and car payment and so on.”
Moran said he hoped a shutdown would last only through the weekend. He believes there is a possibility for another continuing resolution that would keep the government open into the middle of next week. But he also said the decision by Congress to take a two-week Easter break starting April 18 makes an extended shutdown very possible.
“For two weeks, Congress won’t be in session,” Moran said. “So if there isn’t any resolution, the furlough could well extend for three or four weeks.”
Moran organized the meeting hoping to prepare constituents for a shutdown and give them an opportunity to ask specific questions. Representatives from the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, the National Treasury Employees Union and the American Federation of Government Employees were on hand to answer questions, but many speakers used the opportunity to simply voice their frustration.
One of the first questioners took Moran to task for allowing debate on Capitol Hill to fester and wanted to know why U.S. troops would not get paid. The 27-year military veteran had a short back-and-forth with the congressman before Moran told him sternly and repeatedly to sit down.
Another man told Moran, “I don’t want to be Greece. I don’t want to be Spain, Portugal, Ireland or the rest. We don’t have to be, but you and your 534 colleagues are allowing that to happen.”
Moran said the impasse on Capitol Hill is not for lack of the two sides not knowing each other’s position, but because of “inability to compromise.”
Earlier in the day, Moran introduced the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act that would ensure all federal employees receive retroactive pay for the duration of a government shutdown. Rep. Frank Wolf (Va.-R) is the lead cosponsor.
Moran did say federal workers will receive compensation for all the time they have worked leading up to a shutdown. He also believed the GI Bill would remain funded. Moran was unsure if furloughed federal workers could apply for unemployment benefits.
Dan Adcock of NARFE said his organization will be open during a shutdown and told retired federal workers that NARFE can act as “your HR department” if any questions should arise.
For federal workers seeking financial assistance during a shutdown, Dina Long of NTEU told those in attendance to look into the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund. The non-profit is devoted to helping civilian federal employees in need.