House votes to give furloughed federal workers back pay
October 5th, 2013
11:31 AM ET
1 year 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. Dan

    How about government contractors who are furloughed as well? Yes, I forgot... we are second class citizens who pay income tax, property tax, student loan, utility and other bills.

    October 5, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  2. DasPuma

    I am a government worker. One of the first things we have said is, "if we are going to get paid anyways, why CAN'T we just go back to work?". They won't let us. Seriously. They WILL NOT LET US. I hear all sorts of things about being a government worker. The most vacation time we earn is 26 days a year. And yes that is a lot, but it takes FIFTEEN years of service to get to that point. Most of us want to be working and do not look at this like a "paid vacation". Just my two cents.

    October 5, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  3. ArmyRet

    Dire consequences should come as a result of poor decisions. Sorry, guys and gals, but you should not be getting retro-active pay. You can't have no-risk employment at cost to the citizen taxpayer. Smacks of favoritism all the way. Once government employees realize there is a price to pay in the form of lost wages for a shutdown, perhaps then the congress won't be so eager to cut loose its government employee voter base.

    October 5, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  4. Guardian Transition Services, Inc.

    *sarcasm* Ultimately this shut down is completely the fault of Democrats. They should never have made the mistake of misunderestimating the Republican's ability to do really stupid thing's. The problem here is that the Democrats were sure that there were some red lines that the Republican party would just never cross as it made no sense at all. That's what the Democrats get for making assumptions! – I threw that Bush'ism in for ya'll just for fun -

    October 5, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  5. tygre

    Dumb, Stupid. Even the kindly conservative commentators of the news world are calling the tearrorists what they are. How completely stupid and political to pay and not work your employees when the option to work is in your face? Boehner just trying to save a few votes from government employees or garner the support of a representative in the local dc area?
    Presidents don't negotiate with tearrorists. The open mike proved the party has been hijacked by the tearrorists, Rand Paul, among them who seem to be interested in polling the success of hurting the economy with shutdown. Obviously opposed to the best interests of the country.

    October 5, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  6. Anon

    Contractors do not get paid. Business around Federal buildings do not get reimbursed for lost revenue.

    Government furloughed workers get back pay for staying at home? Not fair to the workers that had to show up during the shutdown.

    Economy hit hard for lost revenue and taxes. Government work disrupted for a week which cost hundreds of millions.

    All this is has a direct and even more indirect impact on the economy. It's more than just cancer patients, national parks, and veterans.

    And for what? If you were going to pay the 800,000 plus workers anyway, then just have them show up and work and delay their pay just like the essential workers.

    ALL are to blame. Congress (both parties) and the President. The Federal Government is run by complete idiots.

    October 5, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  7. longfisch

    The comments on this article show how well we have been divided, people who support the Democratic party are on here just bashing the Republicans for paying the workers, yesterday they were bashing them for the workers not getting paid. Both times ignoring the fact their party also chose this shutdown and voted to pay the federal workers.

    It truly does not matter what one party does or does not due, the partisan hacks from the other side will attach, attach, attack. Pres. Obama could declare war on Cuba and his people would line up to demonize Cubans, Pres. Obama could agree 100% with the house and pass the budget minus the tax and individual mandate, the right would still bash him for it.

    pathetic.

    October 5, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    I think that the shutdown is a terrible idea and has needlessly hurt countless Americans. However, how can we pay people for work they haven't done? Isn't that a "free handout" they just voted for unanimously and isn't that what they wanted to end? You can't build a time machine and go back, so the work time lost is lost forever, so this is nothing more than free money being given for the political optics. All those politicians are a bunch of hypocrites, particularly the Tea Baggers.

    October 5, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  9. Richard

    Now we are paying people not to work? StUpiD iS aS StUpiD DoEs!!!

    October 5, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  10. FT

    Hopefully this will count against their "charged vacation" days instead of being "paid vacation". If the private sector American taxpayer is on the hook for 800,000 federal employees to take a paid vacation then heads better roll. I feel sympathy for the plight of many federal workers but as a service member who works for a government agency I know that a large minority or even a slight majority of federal workers are just taking up space. It's crap like this that has gotten us into this mess in the first place.

    October 5, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  11. MikeB

    I think somebody put LSD in the DC water supply. In what Allice-In-Wonderland, hallucinogenic fantasyland does it make sense for Congress to vote to pay federal employees for not working, and yet they won't vote to put them back to work?

    October 5, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  12. Govt Contractor

    Contractors and their workers are not getting back pay–this shutdown is seriously killing the revenue of companies, especially smaller companies, and their workers get nothing from this. There are approximately 4 million contractors vs. 2 million govt employees and 1.2 million military.

    October 5, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  13. Sam

    What does this mean for federal contractors?

    October 5, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  14. beaver

    So I'm a federal worker that has to work. So does that mean I'll be paid double?

    October 5, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  15. Mike W

    Why is everyone calling for the GOP's head over this? The Dems pushed this one through.

    October 5, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  16. Steve

    yeaa now end the shutdown

    October 5, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  17. Tigas

    What's the point of the Obama Shutdown, if no money was saved? States have been furloughing teachers and employees for years because of Obamanomic.
    Fortunately Obama ha pledged $7 Billion to the continent of Africca

    October 5, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  18. Happy to be paid

    Yep–all you nea sayers take a hike..I'm a fed worker..I did not ask to be furloughed..I have bills too...I did file for lousy unemployment...and that's not enough for the mortgage..so...Thanks Congress!

    October 5, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  19. Steve

    Theresa if you don't like our government and resent the government employees so much why don't you just leave the USA and go live in another country?

    October 5, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  20. gov worker

    This is going to cause a rift between the furlough workers and the "essential" that had to work....

    October 5, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  21. Steve

    Theresa if you believe you are a victim to an oppressive government here in the USA China, Russia, Canada, etc would love to have you. Leave, get the h...e...lll out. We don't want you here. Otherwise shut your hole and stop complaining

    October 5, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  22. Steve

    I find it amazing how people resent government workers and our government and believe their is some conspiracy to take over their lives, etc. My thought is that if their lives are so bad; why are they still here?

    October 5, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  23. Rickle

    And what about all the other people losing paychecks as a result of this? What about the small business owners that not only have to shut down the business, but also have to sit down their employees? Why does working for the gov't give you a free pass? Why does the gov't always protect ONLY their own? What makes them special? The GOP's want savings and then they initiate THIS! LIARS! With 800,000 people, these should be the FIRST group to contribute to budget savings. Relative to everybody else effected, these people just got a raise. Way to go congress!

    October 5, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  24. Steve

    There are many other countries that would love to have the traitors.

    October 5, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    As a government employee I think the shutdown is ridiculous. Republicans dont understand the definition of a furlough or the cost to each of you as tax paying citizens for shutting down. I supervise 50 employees and they would all rather be working through the shutdown, even if it meant getting paid later. Don't blame the government employees, blame those you voted for in the House and the Senate.

    October 5, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
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