WASHINGTON (WMAL) – Anxiety’s growing among federal contractors as the deadline nears to reach a spending deal and keep the government open. If a deal’s not reached by Friday the government could shut down again.
“We all hope and pray that it doesn’t happen,” said Janice Adams, CEO of JMA Solutions which does contract work for the FAA.
Adams said her company lost about $850,000 during the 35-day government shutdown, and 35 percent of its employees were furloughed. She and her COO, Avis Dillard-Bullock, said they dipped into their personal savings and spent more than $15,000 to give furloughed employees money to pay their bills.
If the government shuts down again, Adams and Dillard-Bullock said they are running out of their own money to help their people.
All four senators representing the D.C. region – Chris Van Hollen, Ben Cardin, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine – proposed a bill to get backpay for contractors who make $50,000 a year or less, which includes janitors, security guards and cafeteria workers.
“We are trying to incorporate that legislation into whatever final agreement we reach to keep the government open, I mean, we want to get it done now,” Van Hollen told WMAL.
Adams hopes that legislation passes and said she started a letter-writing campaign to get people to push their representatives in Congress to back it.
“I just want to make sure that our folks get paid,” said Adams adding the lower-level employees were hardest hit by the shutdown.
As legislators try to strike a deal on border security that pleases Democrats, Republicans and President Donald Trump, Adams said she’s holding her breath. She said there’s not much they can do to prepare for another shutdown. If one happens she said they will do whatever’s necessary to take care of their employees, including giving them information about how to apply for unemployment and where to go for free meals.
While they don’t want to see another shutdown, Dillard-Bullock said the company doesn’t have the option of discontinuing contracting work with the federal government.
“The federal government is our bread and butter, and we enjoy the work that we do for them. We are a value added to what we provide them,” Dillard-Bullock said.
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