Lummis Introduces Legislation Requiring Federal Employees to Return to Work

October 28, 2021

HERD Act mandates federal employees at agencies including the IRS, SSA and VA return to duty to serve Wyoming constituents

WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), and Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Rick Scott (R-FL), Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Roger Marshall (R-KS) introduced the Having Employees Return to Duty Act of 2021 (HERD). This bill would mandate all federal employees, with the exception of the Department of Defense, that are complying with President Biden’s Executive Order 14043, return to their duty station and the hours they were working prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. While providing for CDC social distancing recommendations, the bill will help constituents in Wyoming, and citizens across the country, who are currently being underserved by federal agencies due to remote work and a backlog of casework issues. 

“It’s long past time for federal workers to be back in the office helping the people of Wyoming, and constituents across the United States. There is a huge casework backlog, and that is negatively impacting our veterans, our seniors, our business owners and American citizens,” Senator Lummis said. “It’s time to put aside politics, follow the science and get back to work. Americans across the country have been returning to in-person work, and the federal bureaucrats who work for them should do the same.” 

“The federal government’s slow return to normal work conditions is negatively affecting the lives of thousands of citizens across Wyoming and the country. The American people are ready to get back to work safely and the government should do the same,” said Senator Barrasso. “It is past time federal agencies get employees back to their posts to help the American people as soon as possible.” 

“We’ve learned a lot over the past 19 months through best practices, science, and vaccines for federal workers to return to their duty stations safely.  The limitations of prolonged absences from offices is affecting casework and other services on which seniors, veterans, and others in Mississippi rely,” Senator Hyde-Smith said.  “I think it makes sense for folks to get back to the office.” 

“Tennesseans have spent the past 18 months showing up to work and keeping America running. Now, it’s time for bureaucrats in the federal government to do the same,” said Senator Blackburn. “It’s time for America to get back to work.” 

“I’ve heard from families across Florida who are facing issues due to backlogs at federal agencies,” Senator Scott said. “Americans everywhere are expected to go to work each day and are able to do so safely – the federal government shouldn’t be any different.  We must get the government back to work for the American people and I hope all of my colleagues will support this good bill.” 

“From obtaining drought assistance from the Farm Service Agency to receiving military service documents from the National Personnel Records Center, South Dakotans are experiencing lengthy delays at our federal agencies,” saidSenator Rounds. “I have heard directly from South Dakotans whose applications and requests are on the back burner as some federal agencies are not fully staffed and have not returned to the office. These delays result in real-world consequences for those who obtain VA or Social Security benefits, receive a federal tax return and look for immigration help. It is time for all federal workers to return to their work stations to fix ongoing backlogs and serve the needs of our constituents.” 

“For over a year and a half, my office has heard from constituents across Kansas who have struggled to get the timely assistance they need from federal agencies due to remote work policies,” saidSenator Marshall. “From stories of extreme backlogs at USDA and the IRS to difficulties accessing assistance from the VA or Social Security Administration, it’s clear that the federal government is failing to serve the American people because of remote work policies that no longer make sense. It’s time for federal employees to return to in-person service. It’s why I introduced the Return Act in August, and why I’m proud to join Sen. Lummis and my colleagues in introducing this bill today.” 

Senator Lummis has heard from many Wyoming constituents frustrated with the lack of critical services being provided due to closed offices, or limited hours, at agencies including the Social Security Administration, Internal Revenue Service, National Personnel Records office, Veteran’s Affairs offices, U.S. Department of State Visa Processing Center and the Western Passport Center, among many others. 

In May 2021, The New York Times published an article highlighting that over 1,200 Social Security Administration offices were shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which in turn stopped lower-income individuals from seeking help and applying for benefits. These constituents deserve better service from their government, and this bill will make sure that happens. 

To read the bill, click here.