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. TheresaInMd

    Being a government employee is like being a card carrying member of the communist party at the height of the cold war.

    October 5, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    Way too much negative about a bill that really does some good. These are not part time employees and many of them would rather be at work and its not their fault their not. GOV got this one right.

    October 5, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  3. what's up

    Wonder if President Reid will allow this to come up for a vote in the Senate?

    October 5, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  4. Steven

    What about the essential federal law enforcement officers who are at work right now not knowing when they will be paid? Why do those sitting at home get compensated for a free vacation when some of us are at work still fighting crime?

    October 5, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  5. Dana

    I don't understand their logic. GOP created this mess because they did not like the spending of money of what is apparently socialism though employed by almost every single country out there. Yet, they agree of spending money to give the pay to the government workers that were told to go home because of their actions. Have they any clue how much money it is? Arrogant useless, that's what GOP is. They got scared of millions of people who won't vote for them next election, that's all!

    October 5, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  6. jmat

    the world watches.....

    October 5, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  7. Philip Chen

    We need a bill to pay Members of Congress to stay home and do nothing, rather than have them destroy the nation.

    October 5, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  8. Federal workers wife

    Yes, this stinks, but for you people to bash government workers and belittle the job they do is just insane to me! My husband works for the BOP is not only educating federal prisioners so that when they get out on the street they will have the tools they need to stay out of trouble, but he is keeping them off your streets. you are safe thanks to him. he was considered essential personel so he is required to still work but without pay. he will get back pay when the govt passes the budget. but and as long as the govt stays shut down, he will not be able to take a single minute of leave because he will NOT get paid for it.

    October 5, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  9. rplat

    Back pay for what . . . they aren't working?

    October 5, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  10. A Typical Fed Employee

    I appreciate Congress' gesture; it is an acknowledgement that the federal employees are hostage to the politics at play. However, the furloughs this last summer put my family in a financial bind and this shutdown furlough is going to be a kill shot for my family. If I don't pay the bills in November, I'll be hounded to the end of time by bill collectors. The worse part is that none of this is our fault; we are the victims of second and third order effects and unintended consequences. It will be a long, long time before our trust and confidence in Congress gets restored. The month is young. Let us hope sanity regains a foothold over the weekend.

    October 5, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  11. Nameln

    bs... u dont work and still get pay. bs. fire all Congress.

    October 5, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  12. JohnRJohnson

    Of course, this vote helps none of these federal employees now. They will be unable to pay their mortgages, rent, and insurance premiums. They also won't be buy groceries or gas for their car until the shutdown ends and they can get paid. In the meantime, interest and penalties will be added to overdue bills and credit ratings will suffer. This vote was an insulting gesture from the House.

    October 5, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  13. Polopoint

    Are there any bigger whiners than civil servants?

    October 5, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  14. James

    This single bill has made a complete mockery of the entire shutdown and the Republican Party. Bottom line – there is now officially no legitimacy to the shutdown. In fact, it just adds to the overall cost for zero benefit. No words can adequately describe the insanity of what is going on here.

    October 5, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  15. mucklucky

    So can all the business owners who lose money when the parks were closed file too. Oh yea, they are the private citizens... they are supposed to be the losers. Just like passing a 1 yr delay for big business then refusing to give it to the people for the personal mandate! Throw ALL the bums out, no retirement and ACA for healthcare!

    October 5, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  16. Mark

    While the folks are being furloughed through no fault of their own, they have all had the opportunity to join the private sector in the past. Had they been in the private sector, most would have had several job searches during the past decade or two as many companies struggled. Far more private sector employees have lost jobs or had wages cut when times are tough and we don’t get make up pay when times get better- we might get our jobs back and sometimes our benefits and pay are restored. Our benefits are often deficient when compared to our federal government brethren. I have had five in three different cities over the past 15 years partially as a result of such economic turmoil. (no kids makes this easier and it forces a savings mentality when I am working since I am fortunate to make a wage allowing for savings).. Sorry for these "civil servants", but their job is their choice.

    October 5, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  17. Mark Roberts

    Hopefully the will passes the senate, Mr. Obama is a strong advocate of this bill, already stating he will sign it. Federal employees deal with many things folks do not realize: Outrageous taxes, nearly $500 a month for insurance, TDY's to various states away from their families, forced overtime, not to mention DHS employees putting thier life on the line each day they go to work. For those who think federal employees do not deserve back pay, I would like to see you spend a month doing what they do. I garuntee you will have a different perspective.

    October 5, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  18. ChickenHawkCivi

    GOP hypocritically engaging in SOCIALISM to pay government employees for NOT WORKING. #TEAPARTYshutdown

    October 5, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  19. LivinginVA

    Yary: Anyone who was considered essential and was working was already going to get paid when it was over.

    October 5, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  20. Punch Cash

    If you're going to pay them, put them back to work!!!

    October 5, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  21. Justin

    So what was the point of the shutdown? Stop revenue? If we are paying the employees anyway...........

    October 5, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  22. George

    Since the House passed a partial funding bill, Harry Reid and the Senate better not take it up, because they are staunch in their stance of "Clean or nothing". If they pass it, just another instance of Democratic hypocrisy. If it passes, Obama better veto it, because he ALSO said, a clean CR or nothing.

    October 5, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  23. Cynical View

    The House has more than 407 members.

    October 5, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  24. Bruce

    Nothing like an extra paid vacation in October.

    October 5, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  25. Faux Scandals

    The house voted to return the stolen money.

    October 5, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18