By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily
Walking down a main street in Wyoming, you couldn’t necessarily tell that the COVID pandemic is still keeping people at home.
Private business doors are open and have been for months. In fact, two Wyoming communities — Cody and Sheridan — have little real estate space available on their main streets.
But the federal government is not fully back to work and closed offices or limited hours at some agencies have U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyoming, exasperated.
Wyoming’s junior senator on Thursday introduced legislation to get fully vaccinated federal employees working again — which means at their desks and in their offices.
Lummis said the legislation is necessary because the lack of an in-person workforce has created problems for her constituents.
“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,” Lummis said.
Lummis’ legislation, the “Having Employees Return To Duty Act” would require all federal employees who have been vaccinated to return to their place of work and work the same number of hours they worked before the pandemic started in February 2020.
“Americans across the county have been returning to in-person work and the federal bureaucrats who work for them should do the same,” she said.
Lummis said she has heard from constituents who have not received services — because of closed offices or limited hours — at 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
Thad Leybush, an oil worker living in Wamsutter, said he was pleased to hear about the legislation but couldn’t believe there was a need for it.
“I’m busting my ass in hurricane force wind gusts while bureaucrats are staying home watching ‘The View’ and I’m paying for it,” he said while eating lunch at Chester’s Chicken at a local truck stop.
According to Government Executive magazine, some federal agencies aren’t expecting employees to return to work until as late as March, 2022.
Other federal agencies have yet to set a date.