March 02, 2023

Van Hollen, Schatz, Kilmer Reintroduce Legislation to Protect Federal Workers, Contractors, their Families from Losing their Homes, Falling Behind on Bills During Shutdown, Debt Default

Federal Employee Civil Relief Act Prevents Loss Of Home, Car, Or Health Insurance, Falling Behind On Student Loan Payments, Negative Effects On Credit History

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) joined Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) in reintroducing legislation to protect federal workers and their families from foreclosures, evictions, and loan defaults during a government shutdown. The Federal Employee Civil Relief Act would enable government employees and contractors to postpone payment obligations during a shutdown or debt default and for 30 days afterward. 

During the December 2018 government shutdown, many federal workers received a pay stub with zero dollars on it. This bill addresses the real threat of federal workers and contractors losing their homes, falling behind on student loans and other bills, having their car repossessed, or losing their health insurance because they have been furloughed during a shutdown or required to work without pay. The Federal Employee Civil Relief Act would protect impacted workers from:

  • Being evicted or foreclosed;
  • Having their car or other property repossessed;
  • Falling behind in their student loan payments;
  • Having negative effects on their credit history;
  • Falling behind in paying their bills; or
  • Losing their insurance because of missed premiums.

This protection would last during a shutdown and debt default and 30 days afterwards to give workers a chance to keep up with their bills. In each of these situations, it would enable these workers to apply to a court to temporarily postpone payment obligations or eviction or foreclosure actions. It would allow courts to weigh the equities of both parties to the contract in deciding how contractual obligations should be treated.

The Federal Employee Civil Relief Act is additionally cosponsored by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

This legislation is supported by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE), Federal Managers Association (FMA), International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), and National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU).