KTVA: Murkowski joins push to immediately pay furloughed feds

Alaska’s senior U.S. senator, who has already pushed a measure to prevent future government shutdowns, is among more than two dozen of her colleagues urging that furloughed federal workers immediately be paid following the 35-day partial shutdown which ended over the weekend.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski added her name to a Monday letter, signed by 29 senators and sent to the federal Office of Personnel Management. The request, led by Maryland Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen, comes after the partial shutdown had widespread effects on Alaska as well as its aviation workers.

“More than 800,000 federal workers have gone without pay because the government shutdown locked them out of their jobs or required them to work without pay,” the senators wrote. “These workers need to know now when they will finally receive their missed paychecks.”

Signers of the letter cite the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act, signed by President Trump on Jan. 16, which calls for employees to be paid “at the earliest date possible after the lapse in appropriations ends.”

“This government shutdown made it clearer than ever just how dedicated civil servants are to their jobs, and how vital those jobs are to the nation,” the senators wrote. “We ask that you publicize when exactly these civil servants can expect to receive their back pay, and we hope it will arrive very soon.”

The letter’s signers are overwhelmingly Democrats, with Murkowski and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine as the only two Republicans on the list. Independent Sens. Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont also signed.

Karina Borger, a spokeswoman for Murkowski, said her decision shouldn’t be viewed along party lines.

“I think there’s broad support beyond the signatures on that letter, much broader support in the Senate, for not only making sure people are paid but making sure people are paid sooner rather than later,” Borger said.

Alaska’s other senator, Sen. Dan Sullivan, didn’t sign the letter. Spokesman Mike Anderson said in an email, however, that Sullivan "certainly shares the sentiment that federal employees that went without pay during the partial government shutdown should be back-paid as quickly as possible."

Murkowski is also a supporter of the Republican-backed End Government Shutdowns Act, which would automatically fund the government during future impasses like the border-wall dispute behind the latest shutdown. Borger said the senator hopes Congress will send either that bill or its key provisions to Trump’s desk for a signature, before the current three-week funding measure for the federal government runs out.

“If that bill were to be passed and signed into law before Feb. 15, we would never see a government shutdown again,” Borger said.

By:  Chris Klint
Source: KTVA