Open Letter to Federal Employees from
President Clinton and Vice President Gore

We are proud of the people who work for the federal government. Any Fortune 100 company would be lucky to have such a work force. Your work makes all Americans more safe, free, and prosperous. We are glad you are all back on the job.

We know it hasnt been easy for you, wondering when and if you would get your next pay check. And many of you had to bear the indignity of being called non-essential, some by government critics, some even by your own supervisors. Calling furloughed workers non-essential is deeply offensive and just plain wrong. The law forced us to furlough 800,000 workers whose jobs were not of an emergency nature. The law says nothing about essential.

No one could say that medical research is non-essential. Or helping Americans go to college. Or rehabilitating a million disabled Americans. Or supporting the widows and orphans of veterans. Or keeping our drinking water safe. Or recruiting new volunteers for the armed forces. Or any of the long list of essential government activities that had to be temporarily suspended. In the short term, they were not emergencies, so the law prohibited them. But they remain clearly essential.

You all know that the law under which most of the government is operating expires on December 15th, and the debate that led to the November shut down is not over. We cant promise you that your jobs and your lives wont be interrupted again. Too much is at stake for America. If you are held hostage again, we know you would not want us to forfeit the nations future as ransom.

So, until this issue is settled the way we settle great issues in a democracy through peaceful debate and compromise you remain good people caught in what Churchill called the worst system of government devised by the wit of man, except for all the others. And when it is settled, it is you federal workers who will once again carry out the will of the people, who will once again make it possible for America to be the winner. We salute you, and we thank you.

Bill Clinton Al Gore

November 22, 1995

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