Mobile Menu - OpenMobile Menu - Closed

Congressman Albio Sires

Representing the 8th District of New Jersey

Washington Review, January 11, 2019

Jan 11, 2019
Washington Review

This week in Washington, I voted again with my House colleagues to end the government shutdown. Additionally, I took steps to ensure that members of the Coast Guard, federal employees, and contractors who work with the federal government receive retroactive pay once this disruption has ended. Additionally, I met with international officials to advance discussions on U.S. foreign policy.

Shutdown

On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week, I voted for legislation that would fund government departments affected by the shutdown through September 30, 2019, the end of the fiscal year.

H.R. 264, Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, would ensure there is no delay in families receiving their desperately needed tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

H.R. 265, the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration Appropriations Act, would return food inspections at the FDA to full operations, fund conservation programs covered by the Department of Agriculture, and prevent a crisis in SNAP funding that is so critical to vulnerable American families.

H.R. 266, the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, would reopen the national parks closed to the public during the shutdown and resume the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s health enforcement activities and state grant allocations.

H.R. 267, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Act, would return to work the 95% of staff at Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that have been furloughed. Disrupted HUD operations pose serious threats to routine health and safety inspections as well as rental assistance payments to low-income families. H.R. 267 would also fund the hardworking FAA employees who are currently keeping our skies safe without guaranteed pay.

Retroactive Pay

No federal worker or member of our armed services deserves to have their livelihood threatened by this government shutdown. I am committed to legislation that prevents these men and women from facing foreboding financial circumstances because of the disruption in Washington.

I have cosponsored H.R. 367, the Pay Our Coast Guard Parity Act of 2019, introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), which would guarantee that active duty and reserve members of the Coast Guard are paid during the government shutdown. I’ve also cosponsored H.R. 67, the Federal Employees Retroactive Pay Fairness Act, introduced by Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) which would establish back pay for employees at the federal agencies that have been impacted by the shutdown.

Additionally, I have cosponsored H.R. 339, introduced by Del. Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-DC), to ensure back pay is provided for contracted federal employees and sent a letter with my colleagues to the Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Russell Vought, to demand immediate action.  Too often, low and middle income employees working on a contract basis are left out of efforts to remediate shutdown furloughs. Contracted security, food, and custodial employees for the federal government cannot be forgotten.

Meetings

On Wednesday, I sat down with Alexander Tah-Ray Yui, the Taiwanese Director General of the Department of Latin America, to discuss our shared commitment to democratic principles and the need for continued engagement in the region as China encroaches. Then on Thursday, I met with David Gutierrez, the Ambassador from Belize, to emphasize the strong relationship between our countries.

Thank you for reading the Washington Review. Again, hearing from my constituents enables me to be a better representative of the 8th District. For regular updates, you may stay in touch by leaving comments on my Facebook and Twitter.