Costa calls for state no-interest loan fund for federal workers
Pennsylvania’s top Democrat in the state Senate could get support from a Westmoreland County Republican in setting up a no-interest loan fund for federal employees and contractors in the state affected by the partial government shutdown.
Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa Jr., D-Forest Hills, on Thursday began circulating a memo seeking co-sponsors for a bill as the federal government shutdown edged toward day 28, his spokeswoman said. The shutdown began Dec. 22 and was triggered by a stalemate over funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall.
Costa’s bill would permit federal employees who are not working and not being paid as contract employees and federal employees who are being required to work without pay to tap into the loan fund during the shutdown that has affected 800,000 federal workers and thousands more contract employees.
While those who have been furloughed are eligible for unemployment compensation, some 450,000 of them who are being required to work without receiving a paycheck.
“This third category of workers are caught in a must-work-without-pay, without-benefits trap. This is unfair and immoral. We should do all we can to make sure that these hardworking people are being provided the means to take care of their families,” Costa said.
Costa’s bill would create a loan fund within the Department of Labor and Industry to provide these temporary loans to Pennsylvania families affected by the shutdown.
”I applaud Senator Costa for coming up with a legislative initiative to help the federal workers of Pennsylvania who have been put in a tough spot through no fault of their own,” said state Sen. Kim Ward, R-Hempfield. “I will support anything the commonwealth is able to do to alleviate their situation, but as of right now there is no specific pot of money from which to draw, so I am anxious for the details of how we will cover the costs.”
The local impact of the shutdown is rippling across Western Pennsylvania, where unions representing about 7,000 federal workers here have asked credit unions and banks to extend credit to cash strapped federal workers who are struggling to make mortgage payments. Meanwhile, local organizations have opened food banks aimed at meeting the needs of workers who missed a paycheck last week.
Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 724-850-1209, email@example.com or via Twitter @deberdley_trib.
Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 412-320-7996, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .