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Open Letter to Federal Government Employees on the Furlough

January 06, 1996

We want to welcome back those of you who have been furloughed and express our deep appreciation to all of you in the federal work force.

Through no fault of your own, you have been forced to carry on in very difficult circumstances—some of you on furlough, and more of you unpaid, all of you doubtless unsettled. Although the continuing resolutions signed today provide neither a satisfactory nor a complete resolution to the current budget dispute, we have succeeded in returning all of you to work with full retroactive pay.

And if there is any positive outcome to the pain and hardship you have undergone for the past three weeks, it is that your fellow Americans have been made painfully aware of the importance of your work.

The inconvenience and pain of this shutdown spread from coast to coast. Veterans benefits were curtailed. Services to small businesses have been interrupted. Important environmental protections have been shut down, including Superfund cleanup and programs to combat air and water pollution. FBI training of state and local law enforcement officers was stopped.

The list of curtailed or limited services goes on and on. FHA mortgages and housing vouchers were halted. State rehabilitation services for those with physical and mental disabilities have started to shut down. Travellers found National Park Service facilities closed, National Forests restricted, great museums padlocked, and passports unavailable.

A ripple effect extended the economic hardship beyond the federal work force to millions of other Americans who provide services to or receive them from you—hardships that, sadly, will not disappear with the stroke of a pen.

Let us be clear: there was absolutely no excuse for this shutdown. We and Republicans in Congress have differing views on how to balance the budget, and that's why we are engaged in negotiations. But there was no justification for this government to be closed while negotiations progress. And there is no justification for Congress' failure to fully fund all government services.

Once again, many of the men and women who make up our federal government were held hostage, with your paychecks delayed and your security threatened during the holiday season. You were put unfairly in the middle of a battle you did not seek. But—whether you were furloughed or working—by your commitment and your sacrifice, you continued to serve our nation as loyally as ever during this crisis.

We salute you for your dedication, and we thank you.



William J. Clinton, Open Letter to Federal Government Employees on the Furlough Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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