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House lawmakers approve assistance for federal workers affected by government shutdown

Delaware Public Media

The Delaware Senate is set to take up two pieces of legislation to help federal workers.

The bills cleared the House Tuesday.

The federal government shutdown is entering its second month, with more than 500 workers in Delaware furloughed or working without pay.

Legislation sponsored by House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf would allow a federal worker or an employee of a federal contractor to petition a court for a stay of certain legal proceedings. The court could postpone things like evictions, foreclosures and repossessions.

Schwartzkopf said it would it be retroactive to start of the shutdown and could extend up to 1-to-3 months after the shutdown ends.

“I do not want anybody to lose their home or their car, which is their main means to get to work, when they can go back to work, because of a decision that’s being made in Washington D.C.," he said.

Four Republicans voted against the speaker’s bill, citing potential negative impacts to businesses.

The House also passed House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst’s legislation to provide federal workers short-term loans of $5,000 dollars or their monthly net pay through M&T Bank. The loans are state guaranteed and low-interest. Longhurst says the loans are state guaranteed, don’t require a credit check and have interest rates of 2.5 percent.

“There’s going to be a higher risk because they’re accepting everybody regardless of their credit score," she said. "So, what we’re saying is ‘Go ahead and provide those loans.’ But the ones that could possible default, we’ll cover up to $80,000 dollars for that.”

Longhurst’s bill passed unanimously.