San Jose Proposes Short-Term Loans for Furloughed Workers

Local officials are exploring the idea of offering no-interest loans to the 500 or so federal employees who have been working at the Mineta San Jose International Airport without pay amid the government shutdown.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo pitched the plan, which will come up for discussion at a special meeting set for this afternoon. This is the 26th day of the shutdown—the third shutdown under President Trump and the longest in the nation’s history.

“We are going to do everything in our power to keep political dysfunction in Washington from creating service disruptions or safety issues here in San Jose,” Liccardo said in a news release Tuesday night. “Mineta San Jose International Airport is vital to our local economy and we need our highly-skilled and trained federal workers there to keep it running smoothly. That’s why we are exploring tools, like these local bridge loans, to help keep these essential workers on the job.”

Vital employees include air traffic controllers, Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) employees and U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.

In the three-plus weeks since Congress let funding lapse because of the president’s demands for $5.7 billion fund a southern border wall, federal employees have had to show up to work without compensation. Hundreds of thousands of them have had to find other ways to get by, such as borrowing money or hitting up food banks.

Basic government functions like maintaining national parks or enforcing food safety have been dramatically scaled back, if not halted altogether. In Miami, for example, the international airport had to close one of its terminals each day for a lack of staff.

Meanwhile, funding for safety net services like food stamps and subsidized rent is running out, leaving thousands of households hungry and prone to eviction.

At Mineta airport, about half of the TSA employees are San Jose residents. Since the shutdown, the daily absence rate shot up from 3 percent to 14 percent.

Some credit unions and banks are offering help for federal workers affected by the shutdown, but those loans have interest rates and are only available to existing members. Mayor Liccardo proposes offering a loan program with the following parameters:

  • The program would provide an amount equal to monthly take-home pay
  • Loans would be repaid without interest upon the employees’ receipt of back pay
  • All safety related, mission-critical federal employees at the airport would be eligible to participate, including air traffic controllers, TSA passenger screeners, and customs officers
  • The city would explore funding the program through airport revenues, and administering the program in partnership with one or more financial institutions.

“Cities increasingly find themselves in the too-familiar position of stepping up to solve problems where the federal leadership has abdicated responsibility,” the mayor stated in a memo outlining his plan. “In recent years, we have seen this pattern of leadership-shifting across a host of issues, from climate change to transit funding to affordable housing. So too, we must come to the aid of federal workers.”

Airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes called the idea “innovative and heartwarming.”

The meeting to discuss the proposal takes place at 2pm at City Hall.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. > to the 500 or so federal employees who have been working at the Mineta San Jose International Airport

    So, is Mayor Sam going to make loans to federal employees at OTHER airports, too?

    Or will Sam keep the airport open just so airplanes can take off, turn around, and land again?

    Why not take the money and make temporary jobs for the federal employees to fix potholes in San Jose Streets so the bike lanes will be safer?

    • We are awash in money in San Jose. Life is good for the politicos! I have been waiting several months now to get lines painted on Bird St so I can stay in my lane. Maybe Sam should stay in his lane too.

  2. I appreciate the arguments behind this move but a thought: Isn’t San Jose just bailing out the feds (Trump/Pelosi/McConnell/Schumer) by taking the sting out of the shutdown, and thereby incenting them to stretch it out even longer? On SJ taxpayer’s dime?

  3. From the article:

    …Congress let funding lapse because of the president’s demands for $5.7 billion to fund a southern border wall.

    If the media wants to lay blame, their scribblers oughta remind the readers that it takes two to tango. But if blame must be assigned, the current shutdown is due entirely to the intransigence of House Democrats.

    The media’s opinion spinners always seem to forget the #1 reason this President was elected: American voters want a border Wall! You know; a border Wall like Bill ‘n’ Hill said they wanted not all that many years ago, and for the same reasons.

    It’s clear that neither the Democrats in the House nor their comrades in the media honestly believe in democracy any more. Not really. Like so many other things they still pretend to believe in, we see now that they approve of democracy only if they win an election.

    Donald Trump was elected president because he campaigned and won, based on one central theme: Americans want a border wall!

    But Democrats continue to throw their non-stop tantrum, more than two years after We The People have spoken! Their incessant roadblocks violate everything our country’s culture and government is based on, and they’re willing to destroy our system if they can’t have their way.

    Democrats no longer believe in democracy if the other candidate wins. They don’t accept majority rule, and they refuse to accept We The People as the basis for our government. ‘Sore losers’ doesn’t begin to describe them.

    How can a government of majority rule survive, when the losers in an election constantly interfere with the will of the people?

    That’s how they’re acting. So, are all bets off now?

    Because once again, they’re saying: “Hey, Chumps! No Wall for you!”

    That’s about it, isn’t it? And isn’t that getting very close to treachery?

    • I thought The Great Negotiator was going to get the Mexican government to pay for the border wall… Did that go the same way as the surprise middle-class tax break the President mentioned on the eve of the midterm elections. Also, it appears overall most Americans currently do not want a wall. However, the vast majority of Republicans do want a wall. So is that where you get “Americans want a border wall”? (that is, Americans == Republican Americans)

      BTW — implementing eVerify throughout the country would be a far more efficient way to help address illegal immigration (as a start).

    • McConnell is the one refusing to allow a vote that would reopen the Federal government – a vote on a spending bill that already passed.

      You can blame the House, and you can blame the Democrats, but if you do, you’re wrong – that is, your basis is factually incorrect.

      I’m sure you have a very strong opinion, but facts matter.

      • > McConnell is the one refusing to allow a vote that would reopen the Federal government

        You can believe that if you like, But a big “SO WHAT?”.

        McConnell is correct that Trump is not going to sign a bill that doesn’t include wall funding. McConnell COULD hold votes, but all it would do is force some Republican senators to make some difficult votes and give propaganda fodder to crazy leftwing stooges like Jim Acosta.

        No need to give distracting story lines to deceitful Democrats who are just looking for distractions.

        > I’m sure you have a very strong opinion, but facts matter.

        Here’s a fact that matters: if Nancy and Chuck had approved the border wall money, THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN NO SHUTDOWN, and there would have been a border wall, and federal employees would not have been furloughed, and taxpayers would not have to pay BILLIONS of dollars for federal employee HOURS NOT WORKED.

        And also, there would have been far fewer illegal immigrant FUTURE DEMOCRAT VOTERS in America, which is the REAL issue.

        Stop the Democrat con.

  4. > In the three-plus weeks since Congress let funding lapse because of the president’s demands for $5.7 billion fund a southern border wall, federal employees have had to show up to work without compensation.

    The money that will be paid out to federal employees for HOURS NOT WORKED will undoubtedly exceed $5.7 billion.

    If NANCY PELOSI would have agreed to provide the $5,7 billion, we the people of the United States of America would have had:

    1. A border wall, AND
    2. NO government shutdown, AND
    3. Federal employees at their work stations doing productive work for the American people.

    I blame Nancy.

  5. Liccardo is just playing the situation for publicity. He is Gavin are two peas in a pod. Just more liberal spending meanwhile the streets of san jose look like a sewer in Tijuana.

  6. Maybe ask @scvwd for money they got millions, and they waste millions, anyone think to ask how well the 2 million dollar board room is working, are all the loose ends done……..

  7. How can you trust a guy and “his” pro-transportation plan when “he” himself has been caught not once, but twice without a $2 ticket on “his” own transportation system and then uttered the words, Do you know who I am when caught.

  8. Before Trump was elected President, Schumer, Hillary, and Obama all proudly stated on the record that they wanted a border wall, and voted for money to pay for it. But now that Trump has proposed it, they have done a 180.

  9. Illegals immigration is the life blood of the DNC, the border wall would be a stake in the hart of its future.

    Nasty and Chuck would rather starve and endanger honest hard working Americans than cut of the supply of replacement for the millions of abortions that would other wise might have been Democrats.

    Time for Nancy to retire and Chuck to get a job selling shoes.

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