With the government shutting down at midnight, President Obama dispatched a letter to the “dedicated and hard-working employees of the United States Government” Tuesday.
His notice lays the blame for the government shutdown at the feet of the House of Representatives, with Obama promising that he will work to get the government back open.
“I want you to know that I will keep working to get Congress to reopen the Government, restart vital services that the American people depend on, and allow public servants who have been sent home to return to work,” he write. “At my direction, your agencies should have reached out to you by now about what a shutdown means for you and your families.”
Obama goes on to thank the government employees for their work and offers a partial apology for the political climate.
“You do all this in a political climate that, too often in recent years, has treated you like a punching bag,” he writes. “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.”
The president assures them that government work is “noble” and “important,” quoting former President George H.W. Bush saying, “There is nothing more fulfilling than to serve your country and your fellow citizens and to do it well. And that is what our system of self-government depends on.”
Obama added that the “shutdown was completely preventable” and “should not have happened.”
“And the House of Representatives can end it as soon as it follows the Senate’s lead, and funds your work in the United States Government without trying to attach highly controversial and partisan measures in the process,” he wrote.
“Hopefully, we will resolve this quickly. In the meantime, I want you to know — whether you are a young person who just joined public service because you want to make a difference, or a career employee who has dedicated your life to that pursuit — you and your families remain at the front of my mind,” he continued. “Your agency leaders and I will continue to defend your work at a time when that work has rarely been more important. We will continue to work with your agencies to keep you and your families apprised and informed of what is happening.”
“And 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.”