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

    Backpay for fed workers sign GOP wants slimdown to last, Reid says. The proceeding is from anothere network. But, what an idiiot Reid is when this is a republican effort to get these people back to work. He (Reid) is the road block in the shutdown and most Americans can see how childish he and his Democrats are being when they need to be setting down and working out these issues. Obummer Care IS the law, but it can be corrected and adjusted just like any other law.

    October 5, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  2. Sara Jackson

    Where do I apply?

    October 5, 2013 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  3. What planet is this?

    want to bet that many of these furloughed employees voted these tea partiers into office? buyers remorse big time!

    October 5, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  4. Mark

    All fine and dandy for those that will be basically on paid leave until the shutdown ends. What about those of us that have been forced to work because we are essential with no pay? Why should I continue to report to work if I can get paid to sit on my behind at home?

    October 5, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  5. Steph

    Just because furloughed employees are getting back pay doesn't mean they're enjoying their time off. Many, myself included, live paycheck to paycheck, and now we've lost a weeks worth of pay. Getting paid at some point in the future for time off none of us wanted doesn't mean that our rents, mortgages, electricity, food bills, or car payments get put on hold. We now have to scrape by while Congress continues at a stalemate and figure out a way to make these payments. We can't apply for unemployment bc as soon as we get our back pay, we have to pay the unemployment back. So before you think that we're all just sitting around, going on vacations, remember that being a federal employee doesn't mean that we don't have the same financial concerns as the rest of Americans. We've been affected by a three year pay freeze, sequestration cuts and furloughs, and now our lives are practically put on hold while we wait for this shutdown to end. We work just as hard as private sector employees and under immense amounts of pressure and scrutiny and I'm sick of people thinking all we do is sit on our butts and do nothing.

    October 5, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  6. Viewer with a brain

    Very simple...congress willing to pass everything but Obamacare, restoring gov't then address Obamacare...why is OBAMA USING the fed workers salary as leverage to fund his idea of what is best... HE IS USING them to his own benefit..a classic tactic by someone that feels he is more important than the people he works for! BLAME HIM FOR NOT NEGOTIATING NOT CONGRESS, don't buy into the marketing effort by WH simply search out and speak the truth. WHY are CNN anchors afraid to speak the truth...especially Don Lemon..what a lame excuse for a newsman..he's an Obama press agent... how can a CNN viewer not feel used after watch this guy.

    October 5, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  7. Rob

    How is this going to help our economy?
    People sitting at home doing nothing then collecting back pay?
    If they are going to get paid, why not make them work during shutdown, or why shutdown in the first place?
    Nonsense.

    October 5, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  8. someone in USA

    OK, so this makes SOOOO much sense...the Republicans stop the government in hopes of saving some money, and then pay people for no work done. OK, that makes a lot of sense...What a complete waste of time making furlough plans....

    October 5, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  9. Kristi

    Totally agree Mark. Sucks for those that didn't get furloughed and don't get free paid leave. If they are going to pay the furloughed people, they should give the nonfurloughed people comp time. Not fair at all.

    October 5, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  10. John

    So they are getting back pay for not working? I know being furloughed sucks, but it's just like any other business in the private sector. Sometimes, money is tight and the boss says, "Hey, I don't need you to come in next week." This is nonsense that taxpayers are paying people who aren't working. No wonder we can't get anything done, because no one has the courage to stand up and say, "Wait, this happens in business every day!!!"

    October 5, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  11. Fooledmetwice

    If you have not spent the time working, you are not supposed to get paid. I am sorry that any fed employee got furloughed. However, back paying them for time not worked is simply not fair nor right. Congress messed up first by shutting down the gov. Now they messes up again by compensating non-productivity. It is all rule by rhetoric and simply smoke screen to hide their incompetence Congress really thinks that the public is that stupid? First, they held fed employees hostage. Now they hold all tax payers hostage..

    October 5, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  12. Amarjeet

    If Republican are voting by clause of services, it is clear responsibilities lie with Republican for effective governance.

    October 5, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  13. jimbo

    Can you say FREE VACATION!

    October 5, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  14. Viewer with a brain

    Very good Point John. As a private biz owner I have had to do that on both long and short term basis. I would also quickly fire those workers that complain like many of those here (note expressing valid disappointment and hardship is different than complaining like you deserve a guaranteed job for life-grow up!). Working is an opportunity, even a privilege in a challenging economy. RE Voting for those responsible..I simply quit reinvesting in my biz because of the economy and Obama's policies..when he is gone and if policy changes..I might start hiring again.

    October 5, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  15. Weeeezy

    Must be nice you bums!!

    October 5, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  16. kottmyer

    What's the big deal. Congress gets paid MUCH more than any federal worker, and they're not working either. They probably felt guilty.

    October 5, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  17. Viewer with a brain

    Do you not understand how our Gov't is designed to work? I don't think Don Lemon does.

    Actually Congress is by design SUPPOSED to pass PIECEMEAL Bills that allocate funds for SPECIFIC needs and act as a check to Presidential branch if he changes passed legislation (i.e., the exceptions he is making for Biz, Congress, etc)

    The combination of all funding into a single bill is something that evolved SIMPLY SO CONGRESS AND PRESIDENT COULD SLIP ALL THE PORK BARREL ITEM INTO THESE BILLS. you should be applauding congress and demanding that they work piecemeal from now on.. Do you really think funding a national park visitor center, fed building window washers, or art classes are as important as funding military, veterans hospitals, handicap or mental disorder services, child services , etc...

    October 5, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  18. eddhur

    they need to take Reid in back room and tie him up till they get this done

    October 5, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  19. Viewer with a brain

    Apparently a discussion moderator is actually able to delay and control discussion progress..I guess they the book NUDGE (the dem manifest on how to control voters via marketing and info flow). Thats ok it will come back to haunt you just like it is coming back to haunt the administration now.

    October 5, 2013 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  20. kottmyer

    If you employ people, you need to either pay them or fire them. My agency hasn't been hit by the shutdown yet , because it still has some money which is rapidly running out. I am not essential, so if the money runs out, I will be told to go home.

    I won't want to go home. I'd rather stay in the office and work; I usually take work home and work weekends - you know, like the do-nothing bureaucrat that I am. However, it's against several laws (anti-deficiency act, prohibition on free service to govt., etc) for non-essential people to work when there's no money to pay them. Anti-deficiency act is a criminal law.

    So the ones deemed non-essential are FORCED to stay home. It is illegal (with possible criminal penalties) for them to come to work, or even check their BlackBerry's. Some workers are deemed essential; that is an exception to the laws, and those people are FORCED to come to work. EVERYONE IS IN THE SAME BOAT. They are all employed by the same agency; they ALL WANT TO WORK. Also, the furloughed ones can't go out and get another job while they're "sitting at home on their butts" (as if one sits anywhere else?) They have the same bills and mortgages (some vacation!).

    At least Congress got something right in agreeing to pay them all when this thing is over.

    October 5, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  21. active duty

    i am calling on all responsible republicans and democrats to unite against the tea party. They only seek to destroy the country they claim to love. Lets direct our efforts to driving these candidates out of office. I wish i could fund a movement. AUATTP= AMERICANS UNITED AGAINST THE TEA PARTY

    October 5, 2013 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  22. Willoughby

    Working for the US government is a privilege and certainly makes me happy to know that I am going back to work this coming Monday.

    October 5, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  23. NotHappy

    What about all of the non-federal workers being furloughed, like myself? We get none of the benefits that federal workers receive, yet we get nothing in return for being screwed over by Congress' squabblings, while federal workers supposedly will receive back pay now.

    I guess the non-federal workers being furloughed truly do not mean anything to this government, and are easily discarded. If you are going to help one subset of the workers being furloughed, then you need to make sure you take care of all of them.

    We(the non-federal workers being furloughed) work hard for our paychecks(I live paycheck to paycheck right now), we pay for our own insurance(like everyone else minus federal workers) & we won't get any kind of retirement benefits.

    We generally have less money & receive no benefits compared to federal workers and yet the government entirely forgets about us.

    Thanks for the middle finger, Government.

    October 5, 2013 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  24. Lori

    I don't mean to judge and call names-but the morons out there who are saying "the taxpayers have to foot the bill for the slackers sitting at home on their butts doing nothing," you don't think we pay taxes too? Most of you biotched because we weren't getting paid and now we might (if the Senate approves) and you biotch! Here's a thought, try working my job and not having a pay raise in 3 years, dealing with sequestration and 6 days of furlough this year that we did NOT get paid for, and now go back to work with no idea when we will get paid again. You think it's cushy? Here's a thought, get a job with the government. I have too much time invested to quit and I would make a helluva lot more in the private sector. I do my part working in the federal government because this was the only opportunity I had to serve my country. I am proud of the work I do every day and I hope I make a difference in the life of the military members I serve with. How many of you out there making comments can say the same thing?

    October 5, 2013 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  25. Marie MD

    How nice of the teatards. I guess the repugs taketh away and then pretend to care and giveth back.
    This is NOT a paid causation as that cat rep from Texas said. This is getting money back when the domestic terrorists stop blackmailing the country. It could be too late for thousands if not million of workers, not just the Feds.
    There's a guy who had not had a job and he was hired by a restaurant at the smithsonian just in time for it to close. He's out of a job again!
    Thanks teatards for nothing.

    October 5, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
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