With the country mired in the longest government shutdown in American history, dozens of members of Congress have vowed to refuse their paychecks or donate their earnings in a show of solidarity with federal employees who have been without pay for weeks.
The Connecticut State Department of Labor estimated that there are several thousand federal employees in the state, all of whom have been without a paycheck since the shutdown began on Dec. 22 as politicians haggle about immigration reform. In total, an estimated 800,000 federal workers have been without work for weeks.
Congress has passed a bill guaranteeing that federal employees will receive back pay when the government reopens, but there is no end in sight as President Donald Trump and elected Democrats continue to hold firm about his stances on immigration reform.
In response, more than 130 Congress members who have continued to receive their pay have spoken out and have had their paychecks suspended or offered to donate them to local charities, including Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, making him one of 18 senators to make the pledge.
This week, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced a private-private partnership between the state and private banks that will enable federal workers who are required to report to work without pay to receive unemployment benefits. Those interested in collected can contact the Connecticut Department of Labor.
“Federal workers – regardless of their employment classification – are hurting while the federal government is shut down,” he said in a statement. “This is particularly true for those employees who must still report to work and incur the cost of commuting and other work-related costs without receiving a paycheck.
"The action I am announcing today will help federal workers affected by the shutdown understand the benefits to which they are entitled and pay the bills that they and their families are incurring.
"In addition, I have convened a public-private partnership whereby banks in Connecticut, led by Webster Bank and supported by the Connecticut Bankers Association, will provide loans to those workers who are unable to qualify for unemployment insurance.
"This is a great example of the business community stepping up to help the state’s citizens, and I am grateful to them for their assistance. Working together, we can ensure that federal workers receive the money necessary for critical expenses even while the federal government shutdown remains at an impasse.”
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