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

    What is the point of the shutdown then? Just take some time off- you'r get paid anyway – get rid of the speaker Boenher

    October 5, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  2. Anonymous

    This amounts to a free vacation for our government.... and this fight is about responsibility?... It's about what's best for the nation?... It's about phiscal responsibility?.... You just can't make this stuff up.... Sad, so sad.

    October 5, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  3. Roy

    Republicans can't link the budget to obamacare. It;s like a car sales person linking the sale of the car to the dress I wear. They say democrats are not negotiating...?

    October 5, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  4. Tom Perry

    Why should they get back pay.... They are not concidered full time employees. When a employee gets laid off due to a slow down and then is rehired, do they get back pay? NO.
    Everyone complains about the private sector when they shouls be complaining about the Gov sector who is know making on average 4% more then a private sector employee.

    October 5, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  5. Yary

    That's for those who had to stay at home. But what about the employees that they had to work without RECEIVE their paycheck " essential", just a handshake and thanks?????? NOT FAIR AT ALL

    October 5, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  6. rep

    Wait...so the same Tea Clowns who overwhelmingly support the shutdown and think these laid off workers aren't important and don't even matter at all, support giving them back pay for doing absolutely nothing?? Am I hearing this right?

    October 5, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  7. Anonymous

    This amounts to a free vacation for our government.... and this fight is about responsibility?... It's about what's best for the nation?... It's about phiscal responsibility?.... You just can't make this stuff up.... Sad, so sad.

    October 5, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  8. Mike S

    OK.. so now they are on official paid vacation. It is wonderful being part the goverment because you get to make your own rules while regular citizens get screwed by goverment regulations.

    October 5, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  9. KW

    I suppose this won't apply to furloughed private company employees who work for federal contracts? We will still lose our homes? We are a young family just starting out. We were only just beginning to build our emergency fund after months of job searching, finally finding employment and spending all of our savings moving across the country for the one solid job opportunity. We were just starting to come up for air. Our future is so uncertain. My husband just wants to go back to work.

    October 5, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  10. poetic Flavor

    How is Congress going to back pay these people if they do not increase the debt ceiling. It is to my understanding that we are close to reaching the debt ceiling. If the government has no money, how do they plan to pay back over 800,000 people. Just thinking!!!

    October 5, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  11. PO'd American

    Maybe federal workers didn't ask to be sent home from work, but you better believe they've enjoyed the past week off, with pay, for doing nothing. And the very least congress could do? They could take the paid time off out of the workers' generous vacation time. They didn't work, they got paid for not working, that's vacation time. Period. Don't give me that 'the least congress can do' crap. Don't you get that the rest of us, the WORKING citizens, are paying for this additional paid time off for these slackers?!

    October 5, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  12. Melissa

    That's great for the federal workers, and I am genuinely happy that this will help my coworkers. However, like hundreds of thousands of other people, I work on a federal site as a contractor. I'm not going to get anything from this bill. My job site is still closed, and what I do can't be done from home. Please don't think that this solves the problem, because it doesn't.

    October 5, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  13. dnokc

    So there IS room to negotiate! Another of Mr. Obama & Mr. Reid's RED LINES fall! This proves the system set up by our founders indeed works....when ALL parties are truly SERIOUS about the well being of the WHOLE! Mr. Obama, Mr. Reid, END your SHUTDOWN! No one can purchase an automobile...and NEGOTIATE the price later...neither can you!

    October 5, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  14. Fur Loughed

    What does this mean for the private employees who are on a federal contract? For example, much of the work force at NASA Glenn Research Center in Ohio are private employees with no federal benefits, have their own 401K, etc – but are on furlough right now because they are working on a government contract and their facility has been shut down. Will they receive back pay too?

    October 5, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  15. JC

    OK, so we now pay for 800,000 workers that do not do they work, great, add this to the deficit.

    October 5, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  16. Courtney

    What about the thousands of gov't contractors who won't get back pay?

    October 5, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    these Republicans are ignorant…first they shut down government and now they vote to pay furloughed workers for work not performed why the complain about runaway spending. These people are too ignorant to be government

    October 5, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  18. Kathy

    They've always given us our back pay from one of these shutdowns. I really wasn't even worried about it.

    October 5, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  19. Nate

    So let me get this straight..we are paying government workers now for not working....furloughs in our state during the recession were ....UNPAID...if you want to pay them, have them work and then back pay them...paying them for not working is REALLY STUPID...basically they are giving 100% unemployment checks to their employees.....

    October 5, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  20. T Gale

    So they stay home and will be paid, but i am still having to work during this ...do i get OT pay?

    October 5, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  21. Tag9

    As long as it is not your money SPEND IT !

    October 5, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  22. Timothy

    In other words, their gimmick would have no teeth at all. We would be paying Government employees the same money to do nothing, while still harming those who need the services provided by Government (i.e all of us). The GOP is in a serious tailspin.

    October 5, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  23. Bob

    Don"t get - it if Gov. employees to receive back pay what " shut down" ? Get back to work !! This is only hurting the American business and public employees -- a total embarrassment of the US

    October 5, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  24. mucklucky

    So these federal workers have been 'stuck' at home and will now get full back pay. What a job! How do I get one of those jobs that sends you home and pays you because your boss is a bozo!

    October 5, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  25. Dan

    So does this mean the Gov't isn't really closed- everybody is just getting some extra paid time off? Stupid GOP or doing this to our Country.

    October 5, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
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