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. DaMilt

    John.
    Guess what? Federal workers are tax payers too. As a matter of fact all of us would love to get back to work. Some anti defiency act or law states we could be fired for doing so. We would work if we were allowed to, even with a delay in pay Who wants to get 2 weeks behind on their workload, in my case, who wants the government to pay interest on services provided by the PRIVATE SECTOR that I am responsible for. A lot of us support the service members on a daily basis. As a 20 year vet myself, these service members are my family. We try to do what we can to lessen the burden and sacrifice our service members endure during their service time. So it's not our fault that our Federal Government cannot resolve their issues. So before you start condemning us, keep in mind, their our tax dollars, also.

    October 5, 2013 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  2. steve

    1. shut down gov, 2. furlough 800,00 people, 3. pay 800,000 people who do no work while lose millions in revenue from all shutdown national parks etc, priceless

    October 5, 2013 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  3. Richard Crutchfield

    So the non-federal workers that have been furloughed due to goverment shut down are as important as teh federal workers? There pay will not be restored. In general they cannot collect un-employeement (because they are employeed). A company is not going ot want to lay them off since they are needed when work resumes and they do not want to suffer a unemployment tax hit. Be nice for a congressman to explain the fairness in this.

    October 5, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  4. Michael

    You're right John, Obamacare can be changed and adjusted just like any other law. And just like changes to any other law, it would require the House of Representatives and the Senate to vote for the changes and requires the President to sign it. THAT'S the way it works. Not the way Republicans think it should work. Tough toenails that the Republicans control only one sixth of the Government and can't get their way.

    October 5, 2013 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  5. Squirrelnutz

    I love how everyone was laughing because workers got furloughed and don't get paid. And now they want to cry foul because we will now get back pay. Can't have it both ways complainers. And thank you for the back pay. Wasn't our choice to shutdown and not work.

    October 5, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  6. epilab

    The government works get a l o n g vacation at taxes payers expense

    October 5, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  7. rojopa

    So these federal employees, the non-essential ones, who have been sitting on their butts since the first are going to receive back pay for doing absolutely nothing?!! Why didn't weren't they just made to work? The size of the federal government needs to be reduced now!

    October 5, 2013 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  8. debi

    Furloughed workers will eventually get paid. So, will I because I have worked everyday through this. They will have to pay back unemployment but at least they have some income, in the meantime, I do not. How is it fair that we are both government workers yet one works but doesn't get paid and the other gets a paid vacation?

    October 5, 2013 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  9. Michael

    You are correct John. Obamacare can be changed just like any other law. But just like any other law, the changes require the House of Representatives and the Senate to vote for the changes and requires the President to sign the law to make the changes. Too bad that the Republicans have sour grapes because they only control one-sixth of the Federal Goverment but think they should call all of the shots.

    October 5, 2013 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  10. Sandra

    Well that is really a slap in the face for those that are getting up every morning and going to work without getting paid because they are essential. Where do I sign up for the free vacation line?

    October 5, 2013 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  11. Lisa

    I'm really sick and tired of the federal worker being vilified. We work hard for the pay we receive. We are not compensated more than others that do the same job we do in the private sector. Some of us do jobs that have no comparable position in the private sector. We do deserve the respect any other person does in these United States. Just because your taxes as well as mine pay our salaries is no reason to believe you can take shots at us. I would love to go back to work. I would have loved to keep working. Those choices were not within my control. To believe that hard working people should suffer financial hardship because someone had a hissy fit in Congress is cruel and unreasonable. Both Houses have had more than enough opportunity to work out a deal in months past. The Republicans in the House chose to close the government because they haven't gotten what they wanted. They are choosing to hold this country hostage. While I deplore seeing children turned away from clinical cancer trials, I'm deeply aware that there are that many people and more who will be able to get cancer treatment without losing their homes because of the Affordable Care Act. The Republicans need to start caring about the people who put them there and quit arguing about a law that they are not stopping by closing the government. Pass a budget and then calmly pass amendments to the law that will improve it as we see where the problems with it are.

    October 5, 2013 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  12. Bill

    Isnt this buying votes?

    October 5, 2013 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  13. Fed Worker

    How quickly they turn...

    October 5, 2013 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  14. airbornevet187

    That is awesome for the extreme republicans to vote for worker back-pay, but why did they have to do this in the first place?! What a waste of time and tax payer dollars (among other things) these circle jks are.

    October 5, 2013 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  15. Bostonian

    What airresponsible, horrible idea! No work, no pay. Have them take vacation and sick pay. When that runs out, no more.

    October 5, 2013 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  16. Thomas

    House Speaker John Boehner is a bad joke !

    October 5, 2013 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  17. ALexander

    Does this include Federal Contractors?

    October 5, 2013 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    If I get laid off then called back to work, I do not get back pay I only get told to work harder to make up for lost time for the company. I don't care if they are a federal employee they should not be paid for being laid off.

    October 5, 2013 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  19. bs

    This is great for contractors. Please congress, take your time now...

    October 5, 2013 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  20. Morgan

    If you are non-essential you get a paid vacation. However, if you are essential, you must work AND do the work of the non-essentials that are on paid holiday! BETTER = no pay for House or Senate, and for each day of the shutdown they lose a week's pay as well.

    October 5, 2013 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  21. Cindy

    As a DoD Federal Employee I think that we should be charged vacation time for the time that we haven't been at work. We should all have at least 40 hours saved up. Put us back to work on Monday. I'm dreading all of the suspenses that I've missed and the backlog of work that is waiting for me. I know there were numerous items I had due on 1 October and with the cuts we have already taken we are understaffed and with the previous furlough days we are behind. I know that Congress will be expecting us to meet our suspenses to them.

    October 5, 2013 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  22. Renee miller

    If you don't know what your are talking about i really think you need to shut your mouth! I am a federal employee and a army reserve solider and there is not fear in the world that can describe my last 6 days. what 8 percent of the work is on unemployment what is the difference if they pay me back my pay or i collect unemployment for 2/3rds my pay... Absolutely nothing!!! We lost 20 percent of our pay other the summer isn't that enough we didn't get back pay for that. So please just do america a favor and if you don't know the whole story they just don't speak.

    October 5, 2013 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  23. Keith

    If they're going to be paid, then call them back to work. Congress just doesn't get it. No independent businessman could ever survive by running a business this way!

    October 5, 2013 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  24. don in albuquerque

    This begs the question-Then why did the government have to be shut down in the first place? Answer–They wanted a little milk in their tea cup of blood.

    October 5, 2013 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  25. scott bleyle

    Lump sum back pay checks equate to more Taxes taken = pay cuts for Fed. Employee victim = Govt.wins.

    October 5, 2013 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
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