U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez met with federal workers on Friday who are furloughed or forced to work without pay due to the partial government shutdown. Coast Guard families, an air traffic controller, and employees from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Federal Department of Agriculture (FDA) and Federal Bureau of Prisons attended the roundtable in Montclair.
“This is a shutdown that never should have happened. Good, hardworking New Jerseyans are needlessly suffering. Our economy is hurting. And it must end now,” said Sen. Menendez. “Across our state, families are struggling to make rent, pay their mortgage, buy food and medicines, and even cover their kid’s college tuition. I fought to pass legislation that ensures our federal workers get back pay and are made whole once the shutdown ends. But what do they do in the meantime?”
The shutdown has left 800,000 federal workers, including over 5,000 in New Jersey, furloughed or forced to work without pay for nearly a month. While the impacts of lost services are being felt statewide, Senate Republican leaders refuse to call a vote on House-passed legislation to reopen the government that was unanimously approved by the Senate last month.
The roundtable was held at Montclair Bread Company, where they are offering free pastries and coffee to customers who are federal workers. Every Thursday the bakery delivers donuts and coffee to TSA workers at Newark Liberty International Airport and have said they will continue to do so as long as the shutdown lasts.
Roundtable participants included:
- Ray Adams, air traffic controller at Newark Liberty Airport
- Cheryl and Myron Asnis, married IRS employees from Kendall Park
- Grace Figueredo, of Roselle Park, is the mother of a Coast Guardsman
- Christine Gallagher, IRS employee from Newton
- Amy Hagel, of Bergenfield, is the mother of a Coast Guardsman
- Rod Koeppen, Federal Bureau of Prisons employee at Ft. Dix
- Michael Morel, Federal Bureau of Prisons employee at Ft. Dix
- Katie Morris, of Brick, is the mother of a Coast Guardsman
- Emily Nering, EPA employee from Basking Ridge
- Colleen Schultz, of Toms River, is the mother of a Coast Guardsman
- Meyer Slobotsky, FDA employee from Aberdeen
- Rachel Wyman, owner of Montclair Bread Company
Sen. Menendez has cosponsored several pieces of legislation to ensure federal employees and federal contractors would receive back pay once the government reopens.
Sen. Menendez has also cosponsored the Federal Employee Civil Relief Act to protect federal workers and contractors from foreclosures, evictions and loan defaults as a result of not getting paid during the shutdown and falling behind on their bills.
On Wednesday, Sen. Menendez shared the story of a struggling furloughed New Jerseyan on the Senate floor and demanded President Trump and the Senate Republican majority reopen the government. He has repeatedly called for Majority Leader McConnell to call a vote on House-passed legislation that has already gained bipartisan approvals in the Senate.