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Marshall to federal employees on brink of shutdown: ‘We all have to, you know, sacrifice’

Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle

With a federal shutdown looming as Congress appears unable to pass a temporary funding bill, hundreds of thousands of government employees are likely to start missing paychecks starting next week.

Sen. Roger Marshall, a Kansas Republican, said Thursday it just comes with the job.

“I think when you take a job with the federal government, you realize that there’s pros and cons and this is one of the cons of it, that every five or 10 years, there’s a government shutdown,” Marshall said. “They have incredible pay, they have easy hours, only a fourth of them are actually back working in the office right now. So we all have to, you know, sacrifice.”

There are around 17,320 civilian federal employees based in Kansas, according to the Congressional Research Service. Most of those workers will either be sent home or will be forced to work without pay.

While federal law now assures those employees will receive back pay for the time they missed, they’re left uncertain about when they’ll get their next paycheck.

During previous shutdowns, some federal employees around the country had to take out short term loans to cover their expenses and some used local food banks, said Doreen Greenwald, the president of the NTEU, which represents federal employees at 31 departments and agencies.

“Federal employees in Kansas are wondering why members of Congress are still getting paid when they haven’t done their job of funding the federal government,” Greenwald said.

Members of Congress continue to get paid during a government shut down, though some lawmakers offer not to accept their paycheck for the duration of a shutdown. Marshall has more than $100,000 in a bank account, $1 million in mutual funds and $250,000 in corporate securities stock, according to his last financial disclosure report. He was an OB/GYN before running for political office.

Over the past week, Marshall has voted against a bill in the Senate that would keep the government open until Nov. 17, while providing $6 billion to Ukraine and $6 billion for disaster relief.

He said he will not vote for any temporary spending bill that has Ukraine aid and that he likely won’t support a temporary spending measure unless it has money for border security. He has also pushed for additional spending cuts in any funding bill passed this year, because he is concerned about the national debt.

“I’m thinking about is the next generation, not my next election,” Marshall said. “I want to do what’s best for the next generation and I believe that the number one threat to the security, the well being of my grandchildren is the national debt.”

The national debt has increased by about $10 trillion since Marshall first entered Congress in 2017, in part because of former President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax cut Marshall supported and in part because of federal COVID-19 relief.

While both Sens. Josh Hawley and Eric Schmitt, Republicans who represent Missouri, have also voted against the temporary funding measure, it’s backed by most of the Republicans in the Senate, including Sen. Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican.

Moran, who served in the Senate during previous shutdowns, said Wednesday he thinks Republicans will be in a stronger position to get funding for border security if the government remains open.

“I think my position is clear about the efforts we ought to make to reduce spending to better balance our books,” Moran said. “But a shutdown does not accomplish that. And in many ways, it’s much more difficult for the services that many Americans, Kansans need to get those services and it costs a lot more money in the process.”