Legislation was introduced in the Senate this week that is designed to protect federal employees from creditors and landlords during the partial government shutdown in the event that they are unable to pay their bills.
The Federal Employee Civil Relief Act (S. 72) was introduced by Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI). It is modeled after the Servicemembers Relief Act and would prohibit landlords and creditors from taking action against federal workers or contractors who are unable to pay rent or repay loans as a result of the ongoing shutdown.
The bill would also give federal employees more power to sue creditors or landlords that violate this protection.
The legislation is specifically designed to shield federal employees from the following:
- Being evicted or foreclosed;
- Having their car or other property repossessed;
- Falling behind in student loan payments;
- Falling behind in paying bills; or
- Losing their insurance because of missed premiums.
These protections would last during and for 30 days following a shutdown.
Schatz said in a statement, “Right now, thousands of federal workers and their families are struggling to pay rent and make ends meet. It’s absolutely unacceptable. Our bill will protect federal workers and make sure they aren’t harmed because of a political stunt.”
The bill has 11 co-sponsors as of the time of this writing, and companion legislation (H.R. 588) was introduced in the House by Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-WA).