February 25, 2019 News & Press Releases

Reps. Gerry Connolly and Jennifer Wexton seek answers about workers’ back pay after shutdown

by Jenna Portnoy, The Washington Post

With lawmakers days away from another government-shutdown deadline, Democratic leaders of the House Oversight and Reform Committee want to know why some workers still have not been made whole from the last shutdown.

Freshman Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) joined Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) and Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), chairman of the subcommittee on government operations, in sending a letter Tuesday requesting information from agencies that are in charge of paying federal workers.

The representatives want to know how many workers are still owed pay from the partial government shutdown, what plans are in place to make sure they get paid, how workers can pay wage garnishments that were interrupted by the shutdown and how workers can ensure tax deductions are accurate, according to the letter.

The letter is addressed to Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Margaret Weichert, acting director of the Office of Personnel Management.

Congress passed legislation ensuring that workers would be fully reimbursed for paychecks zeroed out during the last shutdown.

But Amir Avin, a spokesman for Wexton, the primary force behind the letter, said constituents called her office to request help getting their full pay after the government shutdown, which lasted 35 days and set a record as the longest in U.S. history.

“We have heard reports of many instances of shorted pay and inconsistent tax deductions that left workers unable to make mortgage or rent payments,” the letter says. “They also received paychecks that did not reflect adjustments for missed insurance premiums, Thrift Savings Plan loan repayments, and court-ordered deductions, which have resulted in confusion and additional burdens on federal workers.”

Wexton and Connolly represent tens of thousands of federal workers in Northern Virginia, and Cummings’s district includes much of Baltimore.

In the letter, the lawmakers also ask for an update on the progress each agency that was affected by the shutdown has made in reimbursing workers. They requested answers by Feb. 26.