43 GOP Senators Call for Federal Workers' Immediate Return to Offices

Republican Senators want federal workers to return to working in their offices as soon as possible.

Senator Susan Collins of Maine recently released a joint statement with other senators demanding a return to in-person work. In the statement, Collins and the other senators said the transition to working from home has resulted in a "widespread lack of responsiveness and accessibility across the federal government on account of current agency work plans."

The statement also discussed how the rise of remote work, a result of the pandemic, has contributed to backlogging and unprocessed tax returns. The senators want changes to be implemented immediately across the country.

In October, Wyoming Senator Cynthia Lummis introduced the Having Employees Return to Duty Act of 2021 (or HERD Act), backed by six senators including Republicans Rick Scott of Florida and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee. If passed, the HERD Act would stay in compliance with CDC guidelines and mandate that all federal workers return to their offices immediately.

"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," Lummis said in a statement. "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."

Agencies that would mandate a return for workers under the legislation would be the Social Security Administration, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Veteran's Affairs offices, and Western Passport Centers, among others.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Susan Collins
Maine Senator Susan Collins is one of 43 Republican senators calling for federal workers to return to the office. Above, Collins arrives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on November 2, 2021. Photo by Mandel Ngan/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The senators, which include Collins, have made the request to the heads of three federal departments, including the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Extended remote work across federal agencies has been a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Backlogging has occurred in key service areas. One example they cited is that there are nearly 7 million unprocessed individual tax returns for the 2020 tax year. They also said wait times to get a new passport have become unacceptably long.

The HERD Act would send most federal employees back to their pre-pandemic work hours.