PLATTSBURGH — Although the five-week federal government shutdown ended Friday, there is still critical work that needs to be done immediately, says North Country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik.

"This government shutdown was unnecessary and inexcusable," Stefanik (R-Schuylerville) said in a statement Friday afternoon.

"I will continue to be a strong voice — with a voting record to back it up — to fund our federal agencies. Now, I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make a deal to address the need for border security."

Stefanik said federal workers should be commended for enduring the shutdown.

"I want to thank all of the government employees who showed extraordinary professionalism and dedication during this shutdown," she said.

"I know this was a significant financial hardship for thousands of families in my district.”

 

COAST GUARD SUPPORT

Earlier in the week, Stefanik worked to address some elements of the government that were being affected by the shutdown.

On Thursday, she co-sponsored H.R. 367 — the Pay Our Coast Guard Parity Act of 2019.

The United States Coast Guard was the only branch of the military that was having to go without pay during the shutdown.

Despite that, it continued to provide support to law enforcement, Homeland Security, search-and-rescue missions and more.

The bill Stefanik supported would ensure the USCG receives regular pay during any lapse in appropriations.

"It is entirely unacceptable that any branch of our military is forced to work without pay during this unnecessary government shutdown," she said.

"The United States Coast Guard puts their lives on the line for our safety each day and are honorably continuing to carry out their responsibilities without compensation.

"I am proud to be an advocate for the USCG, specifically for the active duty Coast Guard officers in my district."

 

TSA OFFICERS

On Wednesday, Stefanik co-sponsored H.R. 705 — the Pay Our TSA Screeners Act of 2019.

The bipartisan bill would authorize the Transportation Security Administration to use the security service fee to pay TSA officers during a government shutdown. Under current law, the security service fee is diverted to deficit reduction.

"Our federal workers, including our TSA officers, are suffering immensely under this government shutdown," Stefanik said.

"While I continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to re-open the government, I’m working on ways to help alleviate the pressure on our federal workers in the meantime.

"TSA officers have a vital role in protecting our nation’s security, and they should not be punished because Congress cannot come to an agreement."

 

'LEFT IN ANGUISH'

American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. said future shutdowns need to be prevented.

"While re-opening the government is long overdue, I will not celebrate a temporary reprieve to a politically motivated crisis that has left many federal employees in anguish over how to pay their bills, feed their families and keep a roof over their heads," Cox said in a statement.

"Over the next three weeks, Congress must pass full-year appropriations for all government agencies as well legislation to make all affected federal employees whole. We are also urging Congress to act to prevent the use of shutdowns from ever occurring again."

 

'POLITICAL PAWNS'

American Federation of Teachers union President Randi Weingarten said this should be the last time elected officials use federal public workers as political pawns.

"This shutdown took our country to the brink of a very real aviation crisis and economic crisis, with terrible harm inflicted on hundreds of thousands of proud working families who needed food banks to feed their kids and loans to make their rent or mortgage payments," Weingarten said in a statement.

"The deal to reopen our government and end this useless shutdown is a victory for sanity and a very real reminder: Our government services and the people who provide them are critically important. Any attempt to hold them hostage over political ideology is wrong and dangerous."

Weingarten credited House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) for helping broker the agreement.

"Now it’s time to get back to the business of governing. And while many of the issues that Congress and the president address are important — including border security — they must proceed without ever again using our federal employees and contractors as their collateral," he said.

 

Email Joe LoTemplio:

jlotemplio@pressrepublican.com

Twitter: @jlotemplio

 

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Staff Writer at Press-Republican since November of 1985. Has covered just about all beats at the paper, including sports.Currently covers government and politics. Graduated from Plattsburgh State in 1985. Originally from Rochester, NY.

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