OLYMPIA – Addressing the continued federal government shutdown affecting 800,000 workers across the country, Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines) released the following statement:

“I am proud that the state of Washington is working hard to give furloughed federal workers the unemployment benefits they deserve. Our state continues to put working families first in times of need.

“Unfortunately, state unemployment benefits that are being paid to out-of-work employees will need to be refunded by the federal government when it repays those employees the back pay they are due. It’s vital we make sure those funds are fully repaid and that the federal government doesn’t short our state.

“As the chair of the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee, I am working closely with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the U.S. Department of Labor, and our Washington Congressional Delegation to make the process for overpayment recovery as compassionate and straightforward as possible when the shutdown ends and these employees return to work.

“There are options we are currently exploring, including:

  • Working with the Office of Personnel Management to see if, when backpay is awarded, they would deduct the amount owed by each claimant from their back paycheck and send directly to us. This would ensure the least hassle on behalf of the claimant and is an option we currently allow many employers and claimants.
  • Working with the U.S. Department of Labor to expedite conversations about prior interpretations about federal guidance related to unemployment overpayment recovery.
  • Working with our congressional delegation to try to find ways we can provide assistance to those workers working without pay.

“Almost 80 percent of the American workforce works paycheck to paycheck. These furloughed workers cannot go without a paycheck and still keep up with mortgage or utility payments and other pressing bills. This administration is forcing people to decide between paying their mortgage and taking their sick child to the doctor.

“President Trump is making it eminently clear how he views and values hardworking Americans across our nation.

“For years, we have fought to guarantee employee protections. We must, and will, continue to fight for working people more fiercely than ever.”


For information:    Bre Weider, Senate Democratic Communications, 360-786-7326