Washington, D.C. – Congressman Garret Graves (South Louisiana) introduced legislation this week to help federal employees impacted by the partial government shutdown. The Graves bill would remove the 10% penalty for early withdrawal from federal and personal retirement accounts for all excepted (working without pay), furloughed and federally contracted employees impacted by the shutdown.
“It’s not right that hardworking people are caught in the crossfire of what has become a political fight in Washington. As the longest shutdown in history drags on, we need to find ways to alleviate the hardships on federal employees whose pay is affected,” said Graves. “This simple modification of the rules on these accounts will allow folks to access otherwise unavailable funds to help make ends meet during this stressful time.”
Graves’ bill also removes any limitation on the number of distributions from the retirement accounts of affected workers. Eligible federal workers would be able to withdraw up to the amount of each missed paycheck and would have six months to repay the accounts, beginning at the time the government shutdown ends.
Congressman Graves has voluntarily forfeited his own salary for the duration of the shutdown. In a letter sent on December 21st (hours before the shutdown) to the U.S. House of Representatives Chief Administrative Officer, Graves wrote:
I am writing to request that you withhold my pay as of midnight tonight until an appropriations agreement can be reached. Several federal agencies will experience a “shutdown”. This lack of funding agreement could affect the pay of hundreds of thousands of federal employees. My pay should be no different than those of affected agency employees.
According to a recent analysis by the Washington Post, there are approximately 6,100 federal employees in Louisiana; of that number, roughly 4,100 are estimated to be impacted by the shutdown. According to the most recently available data, there are 3,927 total federal workers in Louisiana’s Sixth Congressional District – the area that Graves represents.
You can read the text of the bill here.