Congressman Pappas delivers first speech on House floor, sharing stories of NH federal workers & demanding an end to the shutdown

January 10, 2019
Press Release

Washington D.C. – Today Congressman Chris Pappas delivered his first House floor speech which coincided with Day 20 of the government shutdown. In his remarks, he highlighted stories of his constituents who are suffering as a result of the shutdown and urged both parties to come together to reopen the federal government. On his first day in office, Chris rejected his paycheck until the end of the government shutdown and voted on bipartisan appropriations bills to re-open the government. He also co-sponsored legislation to suspend pay from Congress during future shutdowns. Senate Majority Leader McConnell is now refusing to call a vote on House-passed legislation despite the Senate's overwhelming support for the very same spending levels in December. Chris is also supporting standalone appropriations bills this week to re-open critical agencies and narrow the scope of the shutdown, and he remains ready to work with anyone to get the job done.

During his remarks today, Chris shared stories from IRS and FAA employees from Sandown, Derry, and Hampton who are either furloughed or working without pay during the shutdown. Read the full remarks as written for delivery from Chris’s first House floor speech below:

“Mr. Speaker, I’m honored to say that this is the very first time I’ve addressed my constituents and my colleagues from the floor of the House of Representatives.

Under normal circumstances, I would be talking about creating new jobs and new opportunities in my home state of New Hampshire. I’d be discussing plans to rebuild our roads and bridges, or proposals to step up our response to the opioid epidemic. I would be sharing my ideas and discussing proposals that can improve people’s lives and move America forward. 

But today’s circumstances in this brand-new Congress are anything but normal. Instead of talking about how we can reform government, I’m here to plead with my colleagues from both parties to simply reopen government.   

Mr. Speaker, today marks Day 20 of the shutdown. After nearly 3 weeks without a paycheck, federal employees across the country are grappling with how they’ll pay their rent, their mortgage, and their utility bills. They’re anxious about putting food on the table and providing for their children.

With no end in sight, thousands of workers in New Hampshire are facing tough questions: what if the shutdown lasts months—or even years—as this President has threatened? What will that mean for their savings, their jobs, and their families? Will they be forced to leave federal service simply to stay afloat?

The treatment of our dedicated federal workers is completely unacceptable. As someone who operated a family business with 230 workers, I can tell you that shutting your doors and cutting off pay for your employees is no way to run a business. It’s certainly no way to run the greatest country on earth.

Mr. Speaker, this is the People's House, so today I’m lifting up the stories of everyday Granite Staters who are suffering because of this senseless shutdown.

I'm here on behalf of a furloughed IRS worker from Sandown. Her bank is denying her the interest-free loan they promised federal workers during the shutdown because the furlough letter the IRS gave her was too vague, and nobody is around at the IRS to write her a new one.

I'm here on behalf of an air traffic controller from Derry who just transferred facilities and is worried she may not get back pay because she was furloughed prior to starting at her new location.

I'm here on behalf of an FAA worker from Hampton who is being forced to take unpaid leave to look after his wife who is going through a health emergency. He's worrying about the challenge of taking on this additional expense without knowing when his next paycheck will arrive.

These workers from my district deserve better from our nation’s leaders, and so do the American people. 

This fall, voters sent an unmistakable message: the way Washington works simply doesn't work for them. They want less drama and dysfunction and more compromise and common sense. They want leaders who will put the national interest before their own partisan, political interest. Instead of business as usual in Washington, it’s time for Washington to start operating more like a responsible business. That means ending the shutdown now and making sure all of our outstanding federal employees are fully compensated. We must do better.

For the sake of the more than 2,400 federal workers in New Hampshire who are currently furloughed or working without pay—and the more than 800,000 across the country—let's close this dark chapter by immediately re-opening the doors of your government.Thank you. I yield back.”