Bipartisan group introduces legislation to protect federal workers' health benefits during shutdowns

A bipartisan and bicameral group of legislators introduced two different bills Tuesday to protect federal workers from losing health benefits during a government shutdown.

“Government shutdowns place thousands of federal employees and their families in very difficult positions," the legislators said in a statement.

"While we truly hope to avoid shutdowns in the future, the measures we are introducing today would ensure that federal employees could enroll their newborn babies in their health insurance plans and that they would not lose their dental, vision, or long-term care insurance if another funding lapse occurs."


Reps. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsSchumer urges declassification of letter from Pence aide Republicans take aim at Nadler for saying GOP senators complicit in 'cover-up' The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clash over rules MORE (R-N.C.), Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkSanders, Warren battle for progressive endorsements Democrats ramp up calls for war powers vote after Iran strike Nearly all Democrats expected to back articles of impeachment MORE (D-Mass.), Don YoungDonald (Don) Edwin YoungRepublicans eye top spot on Natural Resources panel The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems release first transcripts from impeachment probe witnesses GOP lawmaker head-butts MoveOn camera MORE (R-Alaska) and Van TaylorNicholas (Van) Van Campen TaylorHouse GOP criticizes impeachment drive as distracting from national security issues 58 GOP lawmakers vote against disaster aid bill Freshman House Dems surge past GOP in money race MORE (R-Texas) introduced the bills in the House, while Sens. Tina SmithTina Flint SmithPro-Trump MyPillow inventor teases possible Minnesota gubernatorial run Six mayors making a difference Klobuchar releases names of bundlers MORE (D-Minn.), Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinTensions between McConnell and Schumer run high as trial gains momentum New Parnas evidence escalates impeachment witnesses fight Pressure building on Pelosi over articles of impeachment MORE (D-Md.), Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van Hollen Sen. Van Hollen releases documents from GAO investigation Democrats shoot down talk of Bolton, Hunter Biden witness swap Schumer blasts GOP votes over witnesses, documents at trial MORE (D-Md.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSunday shows - All eyes on Senate impeachment trial Senate Democrat: 'Fine' to hear from Hunter Biden Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial MORE (D-Ohio), Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineIran resolution supporters fear impeachment will put it on back burner House war powers sponsor expects to take up Senate version of resolution Sens. Kaine, Lee: 'We should not be at war with Iran unless Congress authorizes it' MORE (D-Va.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Bezos phone breach raises fears over Saudi hacking | Amazon seeks to halt Microsoft's work on 'war cloud' | Lawmakers unveil surveillance reform bill Bezos phone breach escalates fears over Saudi hacking MSNBC's Chris Hayes knocks senators for ducking out of impeachment trial: 'You can resign' MORE (D-Va.) introduced companion bills in the Senate.

“We owe it to our civil servants to mitigate the impact of funding lapses over which they have no control," they said.

The bicameral group cited a record-long 35-day partial government shutdown that lasted from Dec. 22 to late January. Roughly a quarter of the government shut down, furloughing roughly 800,000 federal employees and contractors.

The Internet was quickly flooded with stories of the workers facing financial difficulties or having to take on second jobs to pay the bills. Reports surfaced that some federal employees faced struggles to get newborn babies covered under their health insurance since some agencies were not processing new enrollments or changes to enrollments. Other struggled to pay premiums for dental, vision, and long-term care insurance. 

The legislators touted the endorsements of several groups, including the American Federation of Government Employees, National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association and International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers.