Federal employees were told Tuesday in a letter signed by President Barack Obama that Congress, particularly House Republicans, treats them like “punching bags.”
“You defend our country overseas and ensure that our troops receive the benefits they deserve when they come home,” the letter, dated Oct. 1, reads. “You guard our borders and protect our civil rights. You help small businesses expand and gain new footholds in overseas markets.”
“You do all this in a political climate that, too often in recent years, has treated you like a punching bag,” Obama said. “You have endured three years of a federal pay freeze, harmful sequester cuts, and now, a shutdown of our government.”
Obama praised federal workers for their “noble” and selfless public service, even quoting former President George H.W. Bush.
“As one of my predecessors, President George H.W. Bush, once said, ‘There is nothing more fulfilling than to serve your country and your fellow citizens and to do it well. And that is what our system of self-government depends on,’” Obama said.
Obama then devoted two paragraphs to blaming the Republican-controlled House of Representatives for the shutdown.
“This shutdown was completely preventable,” he said. “It should not have happened. And the House of Representatives can end it as soon as it follows the Senate’s lead, and funds your work in the United States government without trying to attach highly controversial and partisan measures in the process.”
“I will continue to do everything in my power to get the House of Representatives to allow our government to reopen as quickly as possible, and make sure you receive the pay that you have earned,” he said.
Shortly after the shutdown went into effect, Congress introduced a bill that would assure retroactive back pay for all federal employees, meaning they will be paid in full once the shutdown ends.
You can read the full letter here:
This post has been updated.
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