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. navaJohn

    So you're going to give them PAID TIME OFF when we're so much in debt already. What about private businesses and workers dependent on government jobs. Do they get paid too? No? why not?

    October 5, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  2. smaug56

    This is very misleading: Back pay is for SALARIED EMPLOYEES only. 80% of Fed Employees are Pay/hour and do most of the ground and grunt work. They will NOT be getting back pay because they can NOT state the hours they worked. This is what happened in the 90s. ANOTHER WASHINGTON & Press MISLEAD.

    This is America: "Crap flows down and money floats up."

    October 5, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  3. Sanderstheparrot

    If the stupid Republicans did what the President wanted, the government wouldn't be shutdown. Now the furloughed workers are getting backpay for staying at home. Those stupid Republicans. The Republicans screwed up again.

    October 5, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  4. NealinFlorida

    So the government employees get paid vacations! Aren't the republicans always complaining about ALL those employees, and what cushy jobs they have? How is this going to go over with other Republicans, especially Tea Party crazies?

    October 5, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  5. Larry L

    @TheresaInMd

    Being a government employee is like being a card carrying member of the communist party at the height of the cold war.
    -------–
    You appear to be suggesting our Civil Service workers are in the "we pretend to work and they pretend to pay us" mentality. You're dead wrong and must be another moronic Tea Party thug. Most of the Civil Service workers I know are dedicated veterans who continued to serve because they found jobs related to their military training. I only wish you (personally) could lose forever the many benefits provided by our government workers – medical, direct support to our military, infrastructure improvements, environmental, food safety, commerce, disaster relief, and a myriad of other benefits of a strong nation.

    October 5, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  6. TG

    Not to worry, the Senate will vote against it. Democrats and republican risk being caught agreeing with each other, right?

    October 5, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  7. bma

    what a load of *. Government workers getting paid for taking vacation. If they will be getting paid, they should be at work or be filing unemployment just like every other American citizen. Why are they being treated special? Every American should be exempt from paying taxes on this period of time that our government is shutdown instead of having us paying for 800k people to take a vacation, simply just send them back to work, or better yet have the house, senate, and president pay their wages if they want to give them a paid vacation, I know I could use one.

    October 5, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  8. Jeffro B Kirkus

    We feds should not be held as financial hostages to the Tea party. Thank you, congress, for paying me.

    October 5, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    DOMA. Our president has already set a precedent: just because a law passes doesn't mean you can't stop it.

    October 5, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  10. barryinlasvegas

    What a great country – get paid for not working. Washington DC always takes care of their own and lets the rest of the country go to hell in a hand basket regardless of party. But then why do they care – it's not their money they are spending. I wish there was a viable 3rd party to vote for because the choice we have now is none – they are both the same crap.

    October 5, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  11. bma

    Government workers getting paid for taking vacation. WOW. If they will be getting paid, they should be at work or be filing unemployment just like every other American citizen. Why are they being treated special? Every American should be exempt from paying taxes on this period of time that our government is shutdown instead of having us paying for 800k people to take a vacation, simply just send them back to work, or better yet have the house, senate, and president pay their wages if they want to give them a paid vacation, I know I could use one.

    October 5, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  12. AngelaD

    And for the rest of us who support the government, as federal contractors.... nothing.... I keep forgetting our tax dollars and value as individuals, just don't count.

    October 5, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  13. Kip (Portland, Oregon)

    Wow someone has been watching way too much Fox News! The truth is most Americans do not know all of the vital work that is done by Federal workers. The include work on cancer research, eradication of diseases at the CDC, nuclear weapons design, development and upkeep at DOE, tracking dangerous weather, reacting to dangerous storms at FEMA, protecting all forms of US security at Homeland Security, law enforcement and national security at the FBI and CIA, overseeing our vast military at the Pentagon, inspecting food at the FDA, ensuring airline safety at the FAA and NTSB, etc. So negativity about Federal employees just reflects the level of ignorance some not very bright or educated people have in this country. Or they may simply be Tea Party folks who rail against all forms of government and apparentloy prefer anarchy. To quote Michelle Bachmann..."we did our job and shut down the entire government." You may want to ponder just how ignorant is that sentiment?

    October 5, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  14. Jiovanna Louisa

    Our country has gone from dysfunctional to insane to put up with such madness from our so-called government leaders.

    October 5, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  15. AndyinVA

    TheresaInMd, How do you figure? I'm a federal employee. I'm also a disabled veteran with over 19 years of military service, including three years in West Germany in the shadow of the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. I have risked my life on wartime deployments both as a military member and as a federal civilian. I serve to defend your freedom of speech, but you should probably stick to commenting on issues you know something about.

    October 5, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  16. GovContractor

    Are the contractors going to be paid? Are the business owners who depend on gov workers to support their businesses going to be paid? Are essential workers going to get double pay? If we pay them, as a taxpayer I expect them to be on the job Monday morning.

    October 5, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  17. vikingwoman

    Need a little help downsizing government, GOTP? How about: You're Fired! Unemloyment befits you! See how easy this is Mr/Ms Crazy w/Power Public Servant!!

    October 5, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  18. GB

    how stupid is our gov?

    October 5, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  19. Tired

    Yea, if you are a civil servant... but if you are contracted, you are just plain screwed

    October 5, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  20. tony

    Way to go Republicans! Lets use our precious tax dollars to pay our federal employees to stay home. That makes fiscal sense. Tell you what – why not put the workers back on the job and let congress go home.

    October 5, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  21. John

    I have nothing against back pay. But at the same time it is completely unfair. I was not furloughed and I was working 12 hours a day for last several day and I will get the same pay. If they do something like that they need to place some kind of bonuses for the workers who actually worked.

    October 5, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  22. CD

    Full pay for no work. Sounds like a Government job to me!

    October 5, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  23. Government Employee

    I'm probably one of the few government employees that agrees with the sentiment of the majority of the comments being posted here. Being furloughed is no fun (I've already been furloughed without pay for more days than I can count earlier this year due to the sequester); however, if they're going to back pay us, I say get us back to work ASAP. As others have expressed, voting to back pay us but keeping us at home for the duration of the government shutdown essentially amounts to a paid vacation for me. In this case, I'd rather be working so that the taxpayers don't feel they're paying for us to stay at home.

    October 5, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    This is somehow fair to those who worked this past week while others get paid to stay home. Why was anyone furloughed in the first place?

    October 5, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  25. GovContractor

    Maybe the whole nation should stay at home till the shutdown ends!

    October 5, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
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