Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Gerry Connolly Sponsors Bill to Give Back-Pay to Furloughed FAA Employees

Most of the outrage over Congress going on recess before solving the situation with the FAA was the fact that thousands of people were being furloughed and Congress decided to go on vacation instead of passing legislation that would give them their jobs back. Fortunately there are some members of Congress who realize that action was wrong and are taking action to rectify the situation. Rep. Gerry Connolly is joining with Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) and the Chairmen of the House Transportation and Homeland Security Committees in introducing legislation that would allow the employees who were impacted by Congress’s failure to act to receive the salary and related benefits they should have received during the 13 day partial FAA shutdown.

The “Furloughed FAA Employees Compensation Act” would use the federal Aviation Trust Fund to cover the costs of the back-pay and benefits for the 4,000 employees -- almost 1,000 of which work in the DC area.

As I pointed out in an earlier post, Gerry has made it clear that he appreciates the work that the folks at the FAA (and federal employees in general) are doing and the services that they provide the community. During his recent town hall, he even highlighted how some FAA airport safety inspectors used personal funds to continue to travel and do their jobs without pay. He continued to express that sentiment today in a statement about the legislation when he said “I applaud their dedication to public service, but it is shameful that they were required to reach into their own pockets to keep our airports safe.” He also added that “we need to make these federal employees whole and make sure that we prevent future political shenanigans in Congress that resulted in this shutdown.”

Since Gerry represents so many federal employees, it shouldn’t be too surprising that he’s making a point to make sure they’re treated fairly and this isn’t the first time he’s sought back pay for federal employees who were furloughed through no fault of their own. In March 2010, for example a Connolly bill passed Congress that awarded back pay to 1,922 employees of four DOT agencies who were furloughed when the Highway Trust Fund was allowed to lapse.

There’s clear precedent for compensating federal employees for such furloughs that goes back further than just the ones that Gerry has signed onto. A prime example is that here was one after 26-day government shutdown affecting 800,000 federal workers in late 1995 and early 1996 during the Clinton Administration. It’s worth noting that it was a Republican-controlled Congress that voted to compensate all of those employees. So with that in mind, Gerry said that “it was the right thing to do then, and it's the right thing to do now.”

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