WASHINGTON — Federal contractors often get the short end of the stick during a government shutdown, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said.
In this case, it's not a shutdown, but a global pandemic which has dramatically shifted the way the federal government operates.
Particularly concerning for Warner are contractors in the defense and intelligence communities who are unable to work from home if their job includes handling classified materials.
Warner has written a letter to Russell Vought, Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget, directing him to issue specific guidance on how federal agencies implement portions of the CAREs Act (the $2 trillion stimulus bill) as it pertains to national security contractors.
READ: Here's the letter to Vought from Warner in its entirety:
'One of our top priorities'
Warner was directly involved in negotiations on the CAREs Act with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who was the White House point person on the bill.
One part of the CAREs Act Warner helped author was a reimbursement for contractors if their employees are quarantined or end up working at home.
"In addition to the contractor language, there is also $17 billion for national security-related firms to make sure they're able to maintain their operations," Warner said.
D.C. lost out on $750 million in the CAREs Act because it was treated like a territory rather than a state.
Warner is upset and said the District was treated unfairly. He and the DMV Congressional delegation plan to ask for additional money for D.C. in a fourth stimulus package.
"This is one of our top priorities," Warner said. "I frankly hope those folks who were behind sticking it to the District are personally embarrassed by the unfairness of what happened here."
Money from marijuana sales?
Another measure that could be part of a fourth stimulus measure could give D.C. the ability to oversee the commercial sale of marijuana.
Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., said the District needs money badly.
"Marijuana is allowed two ounces per person in the District, but it's not being taxed," Norton said. "The District should be able to tax those funds particularly since marijuana is widely used in the District.'
What about postal service employees?
Both Warner and Norton said they’re also looking out for federal employees and contractors.
That includes people like postal employee Sheldon Curtis who fears retaliation after he talked to WUSA9 Wednesday night about conditions at his mail sorting site.
Norton has a message for the United States Postal Service.
"The last thing you need is to keep a whistleblower from speaking out about their own safety," she said.
Warner said the $2 trillion CAREs Act relief bill is actually a $6 trillion package once you include the funds that will be lent out by the Treasury Department.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on April 3 announced the formation of a House Select Committee on the coronavirus crisis "to ensure that the over $2 trillion that Congress has dedicated to this battle -- and any additional funds Congress provides in future legislation -- are spent wisely and effectively," Pelosi wrote in a letter to lawmakers.
The Republican-controlled Senate is unlikely to follow suit with a select committee of its own. However, there are financial oversight safeguards built into the CAREs Act.
"I thought it was very appropriate to put in an outside inspector general," Warner said. "And I do think the administration will honor that commitment. I hope they will."
"I know the president made some noise that he might not," he continued. "I actually believe they will honor that commitment. I think it's very important we have the transparency about the direct lending to businesses to make sure the public and the media get a chance to look at that."