U.S. Sen. Heinrich co-sponsors bill to protect federal employees' homes

By:  Sara Yingling

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) - Many federal employees affected by the shutdown are likely concerned that they will not be able to pay their largest bills, mortgages, car loans and even student loans.

Now, one of New Mexico's US Senators says he's working on legislation to protect them, while they wait for the government to reopen.

Roughly 6,000 federal workers in New Mexico will not see their paycheck Friday.

The way things are looking in Washington D.C., there's no telling how long it will be before they get paid at all this year.

Some workers told KRQE News 13 they're running out of money.

Paychecks are on hold for some 800,000 federal employees forced to go on unpaid leave or work without pay since Dec. 22, when the shutdown began.
 
While Washington squabbles over billions of dollars to build a border wall, federal employees are scrambling to make ends meet.    

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich is now co-sponsoring the "Federal Employee Civil Relief Act." 

It would protect them from foreclosures, evictions, and loan defaults during the government shutdown by prohibiting landlords and creditors from taking action against the federal employees who are left with no money to pay bills.

Heinrich says he feels this action is needed now more than ever.

"When the president said the shutdown could take months, if not years, I thought it was very important that we send a message that we're going to do everything we can to try to protect these government workers and hold them harmless for a crisis that in no way their creation," said Heinrich.

Also in the act, if landlords or creditors violate this protection, federal workers can sue.

At this time, there's no word when the act could go into effect.