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. Bill

    And the House continues to spin their wheels with no progress.

    October 5, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  2. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Harry Reid should add the clean resolution to this republican publicity stunt and send it back to congress.

    October 5, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  3. kungfudisco

    So we just gave a paid vacation to all the government employees courtesy of the American taxpayer.....

    October 5, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  4. John

    This drives me nuts. What are they thinking? From a human perspective, I understand. But from a realistic view, we spend WAY more than we bring in, and we're still going to pay people for not working. You know, I was in the Marine Corps 20 years ago. You think if I talked to a recruiter, I could get backpay for the 20 years that I didn't work for the gov't?

    October 5, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  5. Doug Oz

    Wonderful, so now our benevolent leadership has decided the best way to fix our spending woes is to give everyone a paid vacation.

    Freaking geniuses.

    October 5, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  6. Bill Lomee

    They're trying to "Save face" with Americans while their ship is sinking instead

    October 5, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  7. Scott

    If you're going to pay them, let them work. If they get a paid vacation that's ridiculous,
    I'm all for paying them but get them back to work!

    October 5, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  8. Makes No Sense

    Federal workers should be able to line up for unemployment, like everyone else does. To get paid for not working is ridiculous.

    October 5, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  9. James

    So what the Republicans are saying is that they agree to back pay the entire government (no strings attached) regardless of whether they are actually working or not. Therefore there can no longer be any justification for not reopening government (no strings attached). This is clearly why Obama has already agreed to this bill. After it is signed he can demand they go the next step which is to get the people they have already agreed to pay to work instead of staying at home.

    October 5, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  10. Whatamimissing

    Politicians screw it up and now pass a bill to pay fed workers that haven't done jack but sit at home. We need to vote out these career politicians.

    October 5, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  11. Mike

    I am no fan of Obamacare, My insurance has doubled as a result However. It is the law. Congress DOES NOT get to choose how to hold hostage and to pay for what they like or what they don't by their recent action. There are appropriate measure to repeal this and the way GOP is handling it, it will ensure Obamacare will stay. This is no game GOP.... People will remember in November. You are not to CHOOSE what to pay for and what not to pay for based on your political belief. IT IS THE LAW.

    October 5, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  12. Bill from GA

    Here's how to end the Shutdown:

    Close all of the National Forest and other Federal land to hunting, until the shutdown is over. (You know, 'We don't have the personnel to manage the lands'.)

    I know Georgia's right wing Congressional Representatives would get an earful over that.

    October 5, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  13. Maimonida

    I am glad that this shameless House has some leftovers of decency

    October 5, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  14. Jenny

    Dear Congress, if you're against big government, why don't we at least pay government employees to actually work instead of not work?
    Signed,
    American taxpayers

    October 5, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  15. bill

    The DEMS should pass the spending bills that have passed the house. And go to the table like the house has asked for the senate to do. But no the name calling By the DEMs just shows you that going to the table will just lead to more name calling by the DEMS. All the DEMS want is to scare people and then not vote on the bills that have passed in the house. With 17,000,000,000,000 of debt what have we done for our kids future run up one hell of a bill for them.

    October 5, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  16. Maimonida

    I am glad that this shameless House has some leftovers of decency

    October 5, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  17. Ellen

    I agree that they should pay federal workers.....but then, what is the point of the shutdown?.....Unless they are after the deficit....or are they getting pressure....You betcha

    October 5, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  18. Joe

    This is stupid. How about we fix the more pressing issue first. Like funding our government then worry about the other stuff. It doesn't matter if they are going to get back if they don't work for weeks. The bills won't stop coming in because your not working.

    October 5, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  19. Tim

    Relevance?

    "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."

    This is not an incremental funding measure, CNN. No part of the government will resume operations as a result of the passage of this bill, should it become law. This bill is a retroactive measure to guarantee backpay once funding is appropriated for the current fiscal year.

    October 5, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  20. Tim

    So essentially all furloughed workers are on delayed paid vacation until further notice...

    October 5, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  21. Dwayne

    If they are going to pay them why not open the federal government and let them earn there pay? Are they going to pay non governmental workers that got locked out too?

    October 5, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  22. JSTC @ Wash DC

    Congress knows that playing 'political games' is a high-stakes process. Federal Govt workers should sue the Federal Govt for un-fair labor practices and [they] workers shouldn't be 'political meat' for those in Congress that have bigger agendas than the self-worth and value of the American Civil Servant....shame on all parties; for not getting their act together....and ObamaCare is a law; get over it already!!

    October 5, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  23. Anonymous

    So now we're going to pay people for work they aren't doing...absolute idiots.

    October 5, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  24. Billy

    What a joke this all is. I think every single member of all of congress should be fired. They are not working for the people, they are looki ng out for themselves. If this Obamacare is causing all this trouble why not let the PEOPLE vote on it in November of this year or next year. Let us the PEOPLE decide if we want it or not because the people we have voted into office have decided to do there own thing and hurt the people rather then help. Shutting down parts of the federal gov and maybe not raising the debt ceiling, which has never been done ever in our history, only makes us look like a weakening country and the world is sitting there laughing at us, America, the world leaders who can't even govern there own country the correct way..Seriously makes me sick.

    October 5, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  25. Anonymous

    Piecemeal legislation? Whatever happened to the greatest nation on earth but that this man John Boehner is now demanding to pay our debts piecemeal? Piecemeal is for those who have no idea what they are doing, or why they are doing what they have no idea they are doing. Smacks of the very favoritism that has always been a GOP dream. What a freaking mess this man has made of the United States government. Look out, middle class. You're about to get bumped off the road to success again.

    October 5, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
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