Federal employees keep this country moving. They are the backbone of national security, safe transportation, safe food, and clean water. In my stints as a federal employee — my first job as a ranger with the National Park Service, my four years as ambassador to Switzerland, and my time since 2015 as a member of Congress — I have been deeply impressed by the intelligence and work ethic of so many of my colleagues and staff.
Yet federal employees in the modern era — and many government contract employees as well — suffer through government shutdowns, furloughs, and pay freezes. Too many people and politicians make a sport of denigrating “feds” — criticizing the government, rather than working constructively for wise policies. With such juvenile approaches to government, we not only hurt the morale and retention of today’s feds, but we risk not being able to recruit America’s best and brightest for this work in the future.
Virginia’s 8th congressional district is rich with feds: It is home to more federal employees than any other congressional district. I am proud to have cosponsored bills to give federal employees pay raises, and to have championed the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act. Thanks to those efforts, we successfully secured 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave for all federal employees.
During the pandemic, I advocated for maximum telework, vaccine distribution directly to federal employees, and paid time off to receive the vaccine, and I will continue to fight for government employees and government contract employees.