Request for Unemployment Aid to Help Federal Workers Was Denied, D.C. Mayor Says

January 18, 2019 AT 7:20 AM

By Caroline Kelly

The Department of Labor on Thursday denied a request from Washington's mayor to make more federal employees who are working without pay eligible to collect unemployment benefits, Mayor Muriel Bowser said Thursday.

The Labor Department's response to Bowser's request Monday fell on the 27th day of the partial government shutdown, the longest in US history. Most furloughed and essential federal employees missed their first paychecks last Friday, and will miss their second checks if lawmakers do not come to a consensus in time for the government to make payroll at midnight Tuesday.

Furloughed employees can file unemployment claims in DC. But employees deemed essential -- who must work without pay during the shutdown -- cannot currently claim unemployment benefits. A news release from Bowser said 7,548 federal workers and contractors in DC have applied for the benefits.

"It is unconscionable for the Trump Administration to acknowledge that these individuals are working without pay and with no end in sight, but will not make the smallest effort to help them by allowing states to offer unemployment insurance benefits," Bowser said in the news release. "DC wants to do more and we are willing to step up. These employees continue to work, they're taking on the cost of commuting to work, yet, they're not getting paid nor are they receiving any financial assistance."

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