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. jwang19

    Many people around the world including my family has been adversely affected by this shutdown and we do not get any compensation for our losses (time, money, and not just inconvenience).

    October 5, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  2. CommonCents

    Can't bite the hand that feeds you.

    October 5, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  3. Michael

    Typical anti-federal worker comments. Funny, all the critics aren't exactly lining up for these federal jobs. I wonder why they don't if they think it is a great deal. Probably the same people that hate Obamacare but love the Affordable Care Act.

    The federal worker didn't have any say in this matter. Now it's time for Congress stop with the political gamesmanship and pass a clean continuing resolution to open up the government and get these federal employees back to work to provide the services they're paid to do. And then raise the debt ceiling before the rest of the world looks on the US dollar as funny money. Then we'd really be screwed, both federal employee and non-federal employee alike. Deal with the deficit with a full year budget to bring down the deficit and debt.

    October 5, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  4. George Daghlian

    TheresainMD.....and these are the folks who the teaparty hates, yet they agree .....we got ours and we will be damned if you get yours!

    October 5, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  5. michael

    Why have a shutdown if you are going to pay them back pay? There are thosands of employees that aren't working due to the shutdown that won't get back pay because they are not goverment workers but they work on government property. How about thier back pay?

    October 5, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    This is a horrible idea...my husband works with a "non-essential worker" that has been home all week. Why should he get paid for staying at home when my husband is having to work? Congress needs to get their act together and quit passing piece meal bills!

    October 5, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  7. Annette

    This is a horrible idea...my husband works with a "non-essential worker" that has been home all week. Why should he get paid for staying at home when my husband is having to work? Congress needs to get their act together and quit passing piece meal bills!

    October 5, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  8. TIM

    I they want to pay those of us that have been furloughed, I say have us use our leave time so we do not get paid twice.

    October 5, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    This is not reasonable. They shouldn't be paid when they are on vacation. Should refund tax payer when the government shut down.

    October 5, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  10. Federal Spouse

    I dare any of you to walk a mile in Federal employee’s shoes. The bills don't stop because they get furloughed through no fault of their own. Try going without pay and not qualify for any assistance. They are just as angry as everyone else. Contractors have contracts that ensure payment, in other words, they are at work and getting paid. As far as most having a cushy job, I have not seen that from my end. I am not a Federal employee, but I am married to one and we live paycheck to paycheck trying to make ends meet. I have endured and ignored so many mean spirited comments from people regarding the employees that you should actually look at the numbers. Most government employees make much less than private sector employees. I have not seen 8 weeks of vacation for my husband, ever. I propose that any person take a hard look at the actual culprits and vote accordingly.

    October 5, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  11. Jay

    So, being a government worker is great when there's a government shutdown! Get paid for not working.

    October 5, 2013 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  12. What's in that tea anyway?

    The moronic thinking the Tea Baggers is breath taking. I'm not going to even explain this stupidty...its obvious to anyone with an IQ above room temperature. We have got to vote this American Terrorists out of our government...send them to Somalia so they can practice their small government ideology....guns for everybody, no regulations including food inspections, and no education or birth control so they can full control of any person that's unlucky enough to be a citizen under their leadership.

    October 5, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  13. Craig

    If the house voted them back pay, then why lay them off in the first place? We're supposed to be impressed that the idiots that caused all this to begin with had pity on the very people they screwed over?

    October 5, 2013 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  14. Lori

    I am one of the "slackers" sitting at home. I didn't ask to get back pay, so quit blaming those of us sitting at home. The blame lies within Congress. Yes, it does amount to a paid vacation-I understand that, but I would have been much happier being at work, getting paid for the work I do, than sitting at home "slacking off" having to worry for the past 5 days. There are MANY single income families that are not getting paid until the budget is approved-whether they are sitting at home or at work and none of this is "fair." Put the blame where it should be-in DC. Don't forget, this happened in '95-'96 and lasted for 21 days-and federal workers were back paid.

    October 5, 2013 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  15. Josh

    How do they get unemployment (most have quickly applied for such), AND back pay?

    October 5, 2013 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  16. jassaj

    OK, wait – so they will get paid for sitting at home? That makes sense.

    October 5, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  17. mostlygreenmama

    Why pay the gov workers AND the contractors?

    Because although they are using up their PTO, they are still coincided to be ON CALL. Most folks have no more than a weeks worth AND, they still have to report to work in 4 hours if things change, so they aren't actually allowed to GO anywhere.

    And finally, they are all JOB ATTACHED which means they are not allowed to change jobs during this time. They couldn't switch now, even if they wanted to. How often does that happen in private industry?

    They are NOT having fun. They are sitting around, sick to their stomachs about what the coming days will bring. Many government employees and contractors like their jobs and are proud of the work they do. Because they are held to a different standard, then yeah, they do need special consideration.

    October 5, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  18. Mbr

    This is absurd. I don't think they should get paid and have a free vacation at my tax dollar expense. If this was a regular company they wouldn't be getting paid. This is life.

    October 5, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  19. won

    Oh, so only DoD workers get to go back to work because .. of what? Morale and well beings? That makes no sense whatsoever. WAR - that's the reason why. WAR MONGERS.

    October 5, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  20. Michael_d

    I have been furloughed for a year, when can I expect my check?

    October 5, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  21. Pk

    What about federal contractors. Our company is not paying us?

    October 5, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  22. steve

    I seriously hope they are not saying that government workers are going to essentially get a 'paid vacation'. It's bad enough that government workers are the privileged part of our society and that many of them even get even further advantages by being allowed to spy on us (not to mention critical little things like being aware that you are spied upon and for what triggers). If they are being paid for time worked, then that is fair, but would not be fair if they are being paid for sitting on their butts at home or strolling the golf course on our taxpayer dollars

    October 5, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  23. AJ

    It's a start. At least we aren't going to have worry about paying our mortgages...

    October 5, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  24. navaJohn

    We're in debt up to our eyeballs and you clowns are paying people who didn't work? What about the millions of people affected directly by the shutdown? Are you going to pay them too?

    October 5, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  25. Scott

    The vote on this bill was 407-0 meaning 187 Democrats voted in favor of this bill. Don't just blame the GOP.

    October 5, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
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