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Ahead of Likely Shutdown, Sen. Smith, Rep. Pressley Introduce Bill to Provide Back Pay for Federal Contract Workers

WASHINGTON — Ahead of a possible Republican government shutdown, Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07)introduced legislation to secure back pay for the thousands of federal contract workers who face layoffs without back pay during a potential shutdown. Unlike federal government employees, the thousands of federal contract employees—many of whom serve in modestly paid jobs like custodians and cafeteria workers—have no assurances that they will receive back pay to make up for the wages they miss during a shutdown. The bill is cosponsored by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). The Fair Pay for Federal Contractors Act seeks to ensure federal contract workers, including low-wage food service, janitorial and security service workers, are fairly compensated for the wages and benefits lost due to a lapse in appropriations.  “This is about fairness—contractor workers and their families should not be penalized for a government shutdown that they did nothing to cause,” said Sen. Smith. “Contractor employees perform jobs that are critical to the operation of our government, providing food service, security, and doing custodial work.  These are often low-wage jobs that mean workers are living paycheck to paycheck. In the past, these workers haven’t received back pay at the end of a government shutdown like the thousands of government employees. And it’s time we right that wrong.” “As a former hotel worker and unpaid Congressional intern who worked three jobs, I know all too well what it means to

Senators Smith, Lummis Seek Key Clarifications to Address Native American and Rural Homelessness, Overcrowding

U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) sent a letter to Secretary Marcia Fudge urging the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help address homelessness in Native and rural communities and to provide clarity on the federal definition of homelessness. The Senators are the Chair and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development. The letter follows a bipartisan hearing led by Smith and Lummis on the  “State of Native American Housing” where witnesses described the severe homelessness and overcrowding issues facing rural and Native American communities.  “The stories we heard at our hearing are not isolated examples.  Many Native and rural communities officially report low rates of sheltered and unsheltered homelessness, but have high rates of doubling up and overcrowding,” wrote the Senators. “Doubling up and overcrowding are likely more prevalent in rural communities that have fewer emergency shelter options and limited transportation options, so people struggle to get to the shelters that do exist.  Studies confirm that some of the highest rates of overcrowding are experienced by people who identify as American Indian or Alaska Native and on tribal lands. Although these situations differ from the ways homelessness is often found in non-Native and non-rural communities, we believe they warrant close attention.” Witness testimony described how some individuals are living in “fish houses” or “ice shanties,” in the face of not being able to find a safe, secure and affordable place to live.  Witnesses shared that Native families

U.S. Senator Tina Smith Reintroduces Bipartisan Legislation to Promote Tribal Self-Governance for Federal Food Assistance Program

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to give Tribes in Minnesota and across the country more control over how a key federal hunger program is administered in their communities. The SNAP Tribal Food Sovereignty Act would give Tribal governments a more active role in the administration of the USDA’s vital Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (commonly known as SNAP). The bill would help make sure SNAP is administered in a culturally-appropriate way that promotes the health and economic well-being of Tribal communities. Federal programs to combat hunger like SNAP are important to Tribal

U.S. Senator Tina Smith Takes Action to Address the Childcare Funding Cliff

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to a fast approaching deadline for childcare funding, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) joined 33 fellow Senators and 78 colleagues in the House of Representatives led by Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in introducing the Child Care Stabilization Act this month. The crucial legislation aims to extend vital federal childcare stabilization funding – which is set to expire September 30th – and ensure that childcare providers can keep their doors open and continue serving children and families in every part of the country. Senator Smith also spoke about the urgent need to

Senators Smith, Daines Renew Push to Permanently Expand Telehealth Services

Washington – U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Steve Daines (R-MT) reintroduced their bipartisan Expanded Telehealth Access Act to make pandemic-driven expanded access to certain telehealth services under Medicare permanent. “The pandemic showed us that telehealth services are a lifeline for patients across Minnesota who may otherwise not be able to access the health care they need,” said Smith. “This legislation will ensure that patients who access physical and occupational therapists, audiologists, and speech language pathologists via telehealth can continue to get those services reimbursed permanently.” “In rural states like Montana, folks often have to drive long distances just to

Senators Tina Smith, Amy Klobuchar, and Representative Angie Craig Press Postal Service for Answers on Mail Carriers’ Missing Paychecks

WASHINGTON, D.C. [09/25/23] — Today, U.S. Senators Tina Smith, Amy Klobuchar, and U.S. Representative Angie Craig (all D-Minn.) sent a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy seeking answers about an apparent payroll system error that led to an estimated 53,000 rural letter carriers missing or receiving only a partial paycheck on September 1. After hearing from Minnesotans affected by the error, the lawmakers pressed DeJoy on the Postal Service’s insufficient response to their significant error, and demanded immediate back pay for the impacted workers. “Rural letter carriers – including carrier assistants – are essential workers whose services are critical to small