A group of Republican lawmakers on Wednesday introduced legislation to ensure that law enforcement and "essential personnel" who work during the partial government shutdown are paid.
Republican Reps. Bob Gibbs (Ohio), Susan Brooks (Ind.), Scott Tipton (Colo.), Morgan Griffith (Va.), and Mark Meadows (N.C.) introduced the Providing Pay for Essential Employees Act, the Daily Caller first reported. The legislation would ensure that members of the federal workforce deemed "essential" to national security and certain government functions—"air traffic controllers, Border Patrol agents, and federal law enforcement officials, among others"—who need to work through the shutdown are paid.
While announcing the legislation, Gibbs and his co-sponsors laid the blame for the shutdown squarely on the shoulders of their Democratic colleagues.
"While Democrats continue to play politics with border security, federal employees dedicated to their mission of keeping America safe and our border secure are still going to work knowing they will be missing their paychecks," Gibbs said in a statement. "They should not be caught in the middle of political ploys by politicians who are not serious about securing our border."
More than 420,000 employees of the total federal workforce of 800,000 are categorized as essential personnel, according to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Of that number, more than 41,000 are federal law enforcement and correctional officers employed through the Department of Justice. Furthermore, nearly 88 percent of employees of the Department of Homeland Security, including 54,000 immigration enforcement agents and 53,000 Transportation Security Administration officers, are working without pay.
The federal government has officially been shut down since midnight on the morning of Dec. 22, when Congress failed to pass a spending bill. President Donald Trump insisted on a $5 billion appropriation to build a wall on the border between the U.S. and Mexico, which the Democrats rejected. The shutdown's resolution has been hampered in part by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), who are resistant to compromise on a spending bill that allocates any new funding for the wall.
On Wednesday, Gibbs said it is paramount for Congress to act and ensure individuals "working to protect America and the lives of our citizens" receive "their paychecks on time."
"We shouldn't be forcing these men and women to shoulder the burden of Democrats' unwillingness to work with President Trump and congressional Republicans to solve the humanitarian and security crisis on our southern border," he said.
The federal pay period is scheduled to end on Jan. 11.