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

    GOP almost always caves to the Democrats. Spineless fools! Why do you pay someone for not working?

    October 5, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  2. Matt

    How nice, John Boehner just gave 800K gvt employees a paid vacation at our expense. Get rid of Beohner!!!!

    October 5, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  3. kevin

    Some of you are not understanding the difference between committing to pay back pay and getting employees back to work. I am a Federal employee on furlough. This bill means I will get back pay when the government reopens. However, I CAN'T go back to work now because the federal government is not LAWFULLY AUTHORIZED to spend money on nonessential services until CONGRESS authorizes it through legislation. So, even though they say they will provide back pay, it would be illegal for us to work until congress does their job and passes a spending bill.

    October 5, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  4. MaryM

    The U.S. does not have a Budget : When asked why the U.S does not have a budget Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chair of the Senate Budget Committee, Said this. She has been trying for more than a half-year to go to a conference to work out differences between the Senate budget and the House version. Senate and House REPUBLICANS have objected, repeatedly including Boehner.

    So you see folks, this shutdown is on the republicans that did not want to work out the budget differences

    October 5, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  5. Bo D

    Then tell them to get their butts back to their offices. One paid week's vacation should be gone. No one else in the real world gets this deal. A company goes on shut-down and the employees have the same problems as the government workers.

    October 5, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  6. MaryM

    Time for Boehner to go. Say whatever you want about Nancy. She definitely kept CONTROL of her caucus

    October 5, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  7. justageek

    I am so ashamed of all of them right now.

    October 5, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  8. veryoldman

    The money paid by Republicans to federal workers for not working is around $1.5B per week. How could they waste so much tax dollars?

    October 5, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  9. Pratt

    So then there is basically absolutely no point to a government shutdown. It's just stupidity.

    October 5, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  10. Dribble

    Explain your statement please.

    October 5, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  11. Hal

    How about WIC mothers? Back pay for them? Probably not! The powerless are invisible.

    October 5, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  12. sandi

    INSANE. Absolutely insane. Its clear this is NOT about budget. Absolutely insane; american citizens get coup'd by GOP congress.

    October 5, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  13. Dave

    So now everyone is off on a paid vacation and the economy of the rest of the country can suffer?

    October 5, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  14. steve

    Yary. obviously you're some kind of clueless troll. Essential for agencies means law enforcement, medical, disaster related, and national security positions. Nobody who goes into these career positions are blindfolded into thinking they aren't going to be on-call and work non-traditional hours.

    October 5, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  15. Dan the man

    I assure you this isnt a paid vacation for our government workers. I am a government worker, and I have been sitting at home waiting for this to end. I cant hop on a plain and go to Cabo for the week. The day it ends I am immediately expected back at work. No government worker wanted this. I assure you we all arent making 6 figures, truthfully most could make more in the private sector. I know I could. Government jobs dont pay what they use to......Dont blame or hate on government workers, we were not out picketing for this....

    October 5, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  16. nolamafia

    wow, it's like a paid vacation.

    October 5, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  17. fighter1111111

    We want the govt. services now and the pay check now. So they want to shutdown the govt. as long as possible?

    October 5, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  18. ColoradoJoe

    So we are now formally paying federal workers to do NOTHING. Paid vacation!!!!! plus I bet they STILL get their usual vacation time!!!! Boehner is a JOKE... yes I see that most of the house voted for this... make congress a JOKE. What's the point of a government shutdown? Oh, the consumers/tax payers (non-government employees) get screwed!!!!

    October 5, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  19. smokeee

    wait so...furloughed workers basically just got a paid vacation? lol its unbelievable how they operate. i've been against the furlough from the start but if you don't go into work, even if its not your choice, how do you still get paid for work you did not do? I really have to get a job in the government since this just adds to how much our politiicians spoil government workers. If i were furloughed right now knowing this, i'd be hoping for another month or two of furlough while taking a vacation to the Bahamas. Unbelievable. I have no problem paying people who work with my tax dollars but i have major issues paying people who didn't, to make up for a Republican blackmail tactic against the Dem's.

    October 5, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  20. Anti CC

    They get paid for having stayed home doing nothing??

    October 5, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  21. bushkilledthegop

    Why not go back to work then? Whats the point?

    October 5, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  22. Dean Yauger

    To ALL you UNINFORMED NAY sayers. You should educate yourself. First off if you think there is only 800,000 federal workers! you better check again. and who cares if there passing a bill to get back pay, its the same routine from the 1990s.. More importantly,, keep sending my paycheck.. I am working because i have to, and i dont know when I will get paid, a steady paycheck is way better than holding it ransom over something that can not be changed! do you not agree? Over paid federal workers.. thats what i read above, you should stop right there, there are over paid employees EVERYWHERE.. maybe even you.. it not just a federal government problem...
    This political circus, is affecting oh just about everybody in this country... Mainstream media only reports the news worthy stuff... 800,000 federal workers... hahahaha... 1 Department has that many...
    I do agree, if back pay is approved then why stay home! 100% so stop the political games and CONGRESS do your job!

    October 5, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  23. LindaM

    absolutely ridicoulous

    October 5, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  24. The GOP is full of Vile Creatures

    Their insane game to get their way by force continues. The Gov, ALL OF IT, needs to be funded not just pieces based on not what should be done but some sick political agenda. My contempt for the Tea Bagger Terrorists and the GOP grows daily. TRAITORS!

    October 5, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    Wow! So what is the point of the 'paid holiday'?

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