House votes to give furloughed federal workers back pay
October 5th, 2013
11:31 AM ET
10 months ago

House votes to give furloughed federal workers back pay

(CNN) – A bill that provides back pay for furloughed Federal workers during the government shutdown unanimously passed the House during a rare Saturday session on Capitol Hill.

Some 800,000 federal workers have been stuck at home without pay since October 1 when Congress failed to pass a budget for the new fiscal year.

On Friday, the White House said the president would sign the measure.

House Speaker John Boehner and GOP House leadership held the vote as part of a strategy to pass piecemeal spending legislation that addressed the issues brought up by the government shutdown.

Although Democrats oppose the incremental approach, saying it amounts to conservatives choosing to fund programs and services they like, the bill passed with strong bipartisan support.

Retroactive pay is guaranteed under the bill, but federal workers can't expect their paychecks until after the government shutdown ends and Congress reaches a resolution on the budget.

It’s unclear when the Senate might vote on the bill.

Shortly after the vote both parties in the House held press conferences, giving their separate takes on its significance.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor used the vote to highlight the fact that the government shutdown has left many American citizens in the lurch even if back pay for furloughed workers is secured.

“What about the vets? Do the Democrats not feel it's important to make sure the pain is eased on them? What about the sick children that need access to clinical trials? Is it not as important to ease the pain of the shutdown for them? Or is it just the federal employees that the Democratic minority thinks is important?” Cantor asked.

However, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi shifted the conversation away from the piecemeal funding to the broader issue of how to end the shutdown. Pelosi announced that 195 voting House Democrats have signed their names to a letter saying they will support a resolution in line with the $988 billion budget that has received support from some House Republicans.

The letter to Speaker Boehner demands “a vote on a clean continuing resolution immediately so that government functioning can resume and Americans can move on with their lives.”

The letter is consistent with the Democrats long-standing call for a "clean" spending resolution without any Obamacare provisions.

However, Pelosi called the Democrats latest maneuver an “unprecedented offer” because she promises that Democrats will not try to force any new conditions on House negotiations with the Senate.

If Boehner put the resolution to a vote, Democrats would need about two dozen more votes from Republicans in order to reach the two-thirds majority.

However, up until now, Boehner has been unwilling to bring the resolution to a vote, and its unlikely House Republicans would defy GOP leadership and side with the Democrats.

Shortly after the bill passed the House on Saturday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that most Defense Department civilian workers who were furloughed would be asked to return to work beginning next week.

Hagel said Pentagon and Justice Department attorneys have found that the law allows the Department of Defense to bring back employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members.

The House also passed a resolution acknowledging the need for the Armed Forces to have access to religious services on military installations during the government shutdown.


Filed under: Government Shutdown • House
soundoff (445 Responses)
  1. Jonny

    Can't. Complaint I voted GOP and congress gives me a free vacation, keep arguing amongst yourselves while I my 80k (gs 12).

    October 6, 2013 02:54 am at 2:54 am |
  2. Paul Wilcox

    While I appreciate Ms. Pelosi informing us of what the Democrats want...what about what the American people want...you know, the ones who elected her to represent them, not the Democrats?

    October 6, 2013 03:43 am at 3:43 am |
  3. dd

    Read the whole story...nobody is expected to sit home and collect money:

    "Shortly after the bill passed the House on Saturday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that most Defense Department civilian workers who were furloughed would be asked to return to work beginning next week."

    October 6, 2013 03:47 am at 3:47 am |
  4. Maripil

    The tea party and Boehner have no conscience at all. Leaving government high and dry. They have no end except to put a gun to our heads and play the blame game. After shutting the government, they put the blame on democrats. They can't accept the fact that they lost last presidential elections.

    October 6, 2013 03:52 am at 3:52 am |
  5. Maripil

    These republicans are idiots to think that their peicemeal approach of passing legislation will work. Why can't they just take the affordable healthcare act off the table. Pres. Obama was re-elected and Obamacare is the law of the land. Republicans will shutdown government till their blue in the face!!

    October 6, 2013 03:58 am at 3:58 am |
  6. Anonymous

    Federal workers are going to get retro pay but what of the private citizen affect by the shutdown.
    Is the government going to pay them, I think not.

    October 6, 2013 04:08 am at 4:08 am |
  7. sweepster

    Obamacare is already the law of the land. This is a simple attempt for a few to marginalize the many. Cruz will cause Republicans to loose their positions even if he is in a safe district. The weeper of the house better step up.

    October 6, 2013 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  8. Public punished

    With furloughed workers now on a paid vacation, it is just the American citizens who are being punished by the selective shutdown by the President and his bureaucrat disciples.

    The Federal Government is even preventing State government and private citizens from funding the reopening of parks, monuments and museums.

    So, when will the negotiation and compromise start???

    October 6, 2013 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  9. Wascally Wepubwicans

    Go ahead and vote yourself a pay raise too. These are non essential workers and maybe they need to be weaned and go find other employment like the rest of Americans have had to do. They've skewed unemployment numbers for so long that they believe it's the truth. In business you don't shut down the company because you let some people go, no, you streamline your projects and distribute the workload to keep it going during lean times. If times get better and workers can be hired you add them as needed. Oh yeah and who gets to raise their own credit limits to pay for this crap? We, the tax payers get screwed once again as we are the ones who pay for this debacle.

    October 6, 2013 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  10. Ronald

    What about the contractors that are on furlough, are they getting anything? Nope. the furlough has placed countless contractors that support the government and the federal employees on furlough as well, but they get nothing!

    October 6, 2013 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  11. Sherley M

    Listen to you people, we should not pay these people!!!! are you guys nuts, it not like they choose to sit at home and collect a paycheck, its congress fault. Those dictating republicans are so scared that the obama care is going to work so they are putting a fight with no cause, note to the dictating republicans you should no shut down government over a law that has already been pass, Try to freaking win the next election and make all the changes you want and get are government up and running, THE ENTIRE Government!

    October 6, 2013 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  12. Pete/Ark

    On top of it all , a major insurance company with a primarily Military orientation may have found a "poison pill" in the bill to pay the active duty troops ... the are offering INTEREST FREE pay day loans to their active duty policy holders since their lawyers say that pay on the 15th STILL hinges on passing a CR. Did someone pull a fast one ? I have no clue ....

    October 6, 2013 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  13. coolthinker

    at least they should make the federal workers come to work and get the value for the money. Congress is fast becoming a congregation of crooks and pinheads...

    October 6, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  14. PTO Furlough

    And the point of a shutdown is......? All of this BS for what amounts to vacation time courtesy of the taxpayers. Goodbye tea party. Goodbye republicans. You have no idea how to govern, and for that you WILL be voted out. Now it's not "Let them go back to work." It's "Bring them back from vacation." Voted. Out.

    October 6, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  15. blythe5050

    How do the ppl eat . Can they recieve foodstamps. Who is taking up the slack for these workers. Is the gop hoping they are moonlighting at some other job? I dont get how you just starve US citizens without a care in the world and sit pn tv spewing rhetoric all day. Where do they go . Is there a backup plan?

    October 6, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  16. Denese

    A significant portion of the federal employee population is filled contractors. They will not be eligible for back pay, so don't complain about a benefit that many of your co-workers are not getting. My husband is a member of this group and this is our 2nd time in his career of 19 years working for our government, that we have to endure missing paychecks.

    October 6, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  17. PTO Furlough

    The government workers should get paid. I do not blame them at all. They didn't ask for this. There is a lot of harm being done by this farce caused by the GOP/Tea party. Fiscal responsibility? Really? This congress is costing us way more money than they are worth. Speaker Boehner is worried about losing his job. Well, I say in 2014 he can kiss it goodbye anyway.

    2014: Retired Speaker of the House, John Boehner.
    2016: Extremely unsuccessful presidential candidate Ted Cruz

    October 6, 2013 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  18. Check yourself

    Good, the gov workers did not ask to be put in this situation. Most of them make less than you anyways, they chose job security over the size of their pay checks and then this shutdown happens. They have families just like you do, do you WANT them to go through hardship?

    October 6, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  19. mark

    Wow ! What dummies ,BOTH PARTIES democrats all went along. So the workers get payed for doing nothing. So the next logical step will be they are getting payed why not work. Obama played you like a fiddle. Now I cannot possibly vote for a republican or a DEMOCRAT. Because both parties do not challenge this man we have as President. Democrats just knuckle under easier.

    October 6, 2013 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    Has any one ever heard of a honest days work for an honest days pay? It would make sense to most Americans that once your money is gone you have to cut back on your spending not continue to borrow. Bring the federal employees back to work and create a budget and stick to it.

    October 6, 2013 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
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