WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama sent a letter to federal employees on Tuesday, apologizing that they have been treated like a "punching bag" in the current political climate and promising to make sure they receive back pay once the shutdown is over.
Thanking them for the "vitally important" work they do every day, Obama said, "You do all this in a political climate that, too often in recent years, has treated you like a punching bag. You have endured three years of a Federal pay freeze, harmful sequester cuts, and now, a shutdown of our Government. And yet, you persevere, continuing to serve the American people with passion, professionalism, and skill."
"None of this is fair to you. And should it continue, it will make it more difficult to keep attracting the kind of driven, patriotic, idealistic Americans to public service that our citizens deserve and that our system of self-government demands," he added.
Approximately 800,000 federal workers will be home without pay during the government shutdown. The only way they will receive back pay is if Congress authorizes it. While that happened during the shutdowns of 1995 and 1996, many people anticipate that they won't be as lucky this time.
Obama pledged in his letter to fight for workers' back pay.
"I will continue to do everything in my power to get the House of Representatives to allow our Government to reopen as quickly as possible, and make sure you receive the pay that you have earned," he said.
The letter Obama sent to federal workers:
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