September 27, 2013

Gillibrand to Feds: Federal Employees Working on Sandy Recovery Programs Should be Exempt from Potential Government Shutdown

Washington, DCU.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today urged feds to exempt federal employees who are working on Sandy-related recovery efforts and programs from any furloughs that may result from a potential government shutdown. Senator Gillibrand noted that the exemption would protect the storm recovery process for Sandy-impacted New Yorkers from further delay and that the emergency rebuilding efforts for many hard-hit communities should continue no matter what happens to the U.S. government’s operating status.

Senator Gillibrand wrote in a letter to the Office of Management and Budget Director Mathews Burwell and the Office of Personnel Management Acting Director Elaine Kaplan, “I am writing to strongly urge that all federal employees that are working on programs and projects related to Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts be designated exempt from any furloughs that may result from a shutdown of the Federal government should Congress fail to pass a funding resolution by October 1st.  Ensuring that the recovery process is not further delayed or otherwise negatively impacted by a government shutdown is of critical importance to millions of New Yorkers affected by Sandy nearly eleven months ago… New Yorkers who are desperately in need of our assistance should not be punished by the inability of Congress to fund the federal government. 

The Senator pointed to past precedence for exempting federal workers who assist in emergency and disaster-related capacities and requested a comprehensive list of agencies, Sandy-related projects, and workers  impacted by a government shutdown and the amount of time it would take for those affected projects to resume following the conclusion of a shutdown of the federal government.

Full text of Gillibrand’s letter is below:

Dear Directors Burwell and Kaplan,

 

            I am writing to strongly urge that all federal employees that are working on programs and projects related to Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts be designated exempt from any furloughs that may result from a shutdown of the Federal government should Congress fail to pass a funding resolution by October 1st.  Ensuring that the recovery process is not further delayed or otherwise negatively impacted by a government shutdown is of critical importance to millions of New Yorkers affected by Sandy nearly eleven months ago.

 

Precedent exists for exempting federal employees who are performing emergency and disaster assistance.  Clearly, Sandy recovery efforts should fall under that category and be allowed to continue regardless of the operating status of the federal government as a whole so that the distribution of disaster-related funding or the processing of applications for federal assistance are not unnecessarily delayed. 

 

            Multiple agencies across the Federal government, including but not limited to the Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Transportation, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of the Interior are involved in critical and time-sensitive projects to help New Yorkers get back on their feet and rebuild our regional infrastructure.  Many New Yorkers have yet to begin to rebuild their homes, and they are relying on federal assistance to do so.  Additionally, we cannot afford any delay in the projects that are repairing and rebuilding our transportation, flood control and coastal protection infrastructure.  

 

            Due to the large number of agencies and personnel involved with the Sandy recovery, I request that you provide my office with a complete list of the agencies and projects that would be affected by a government shutdown, the number of personnel affected and what their roles and responsibilities are, and the amount of time it would take for those affected projects to resume following the conclusion of a shutdown of the federal government.

 

            New Yorkers who are desperately in need of our assistance should not be punished by the inability of Congress to fund the federal government.  Again, I urge you to use the authority you have to exempt federal employees carrying out the urgent and critical work of helping my constituents recover from the devastation of Superstorm Sandy.