I recently wrote a post about how Sen. Jeff Merkley spoke out about how Sen. Jim Bunning (R - KY) was taking advantage of an arcaine Senate rule that allowed him to block legislation that would help the working class even though he was the only one who objected. While I focused at the time on how Bunning's actions would mean unemployment benefits that wouldn't be able to get to those who so desperately needed them, there were other people who would be impacted as well. One set of people were 1,922 employees of the Department of Transportation who were furloughed on March 1 and 2 when the Highway Trust Fund lapsed due to Bunning's actions.
Fortunately, there are some members of Congress who are standing up for those employees and I'm pleased to say that one of those is my Congressman -- Gerry Connolly. Earlier today a bill he sponsored that would compensate the DOT employees for the two days of work they missed passed the House of Representatives. While speaking in support of the bill, Gerry pointed out that there was precedent for this action as the Republican controlled Congress in the 90's compensated workers after a 26-day shutdown of the federal government. He also pointed out that the employees were impacted through no fault of their own, but instead based solely on the political gamemanship of one member of the US Senate.
“These DOT employees became unwitting victims of an arcane practice in the upper chamber that allows one member's objection, no matter how specious, to grind to a halt the work of the American people,” Connolly said on the House floor during consideration of his measure. “By taking action now, we will prevent a 20% cut in the next bi-weekly paycheck for these dedicated public servants and their families.”