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. jon

    What about all the "essential" government employees that are working right now? Will they be compensated for picking up the slack of the other employees who are getting a free paid vacation?

    October 5, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  2. helen

    My husband HAS been working, this whole time....

    October 5, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  3. gary phillips

    So, just like Congress, they will get paid for doing nothing!

    October 5, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  4. cc

    Why is the media just focused on the 800,000 government workers and their back pay. Lets talk about the private sector employees who are being impacted by this with no hope of back pay.

    Lets see what this does to the economy when income is down, tax revenue is down, unemployment claims are up and money that would have been used for holiday spending has already been spent to cover essential.

    Congress – we need action and we need it quickly

    October 5, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  5. HdeMoor

    Yet another stupid congressional move. If you are willing to pay federal employees, at least allow them the dignity of working for it. Why shut something down if you are still incurring its cost.?

    October 5, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  6. alan

    I'm a federal (DoD) worker. Sure I like this payback news, but I didn't ask for the money. Nor did I ask to be furloughed as a tea party hostage.

    I hear us DoD civilians may be back at work on Monday.

    October 5, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  7. Prestige WW

    So these losers get to stay at home and then get paid for it? If they don't work then they shouldn't get paid – it's a risk of having a job where your wages are appropriated! These are people who are going to file unemployment – receive that aid then get full retro pay? This is why regular Americans hate federal employees

    October 5, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  8. love the US

    For all you democrats complaining about the republicans passing the bill to pay furloughed federal workers-keep in mind that it was passed unanimously (which means all democrats in the House voted for it also).

    October 5, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  9. Jeff

    Everyone is stating that this back pay is a paid vacation. Well it is not, I am not getting a pay check so how does this equal a paid vacation? I was told to go home and come back when the shutdown it over with. This is not a private company with over 800,000 employees furloughed. If a private company decides to give you money during a shutdown then you would be happy, but you need to remember a private company is looking at profit. The government is not a profit company.

    October 5, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  10. foreverflag

    To Dem. Senators: Force your leader Dirty Harry to put each amend before your body. Let's see where you are all at.
    If you can pay the gov. workers, then you can vote on the other amendments. I don't blame anyone for not trusting the Pres. to keep his word. Show the citizens where you stand. Man up.

    October 5, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  11. Barbara

    What about Federal contract workers? I have just been informed that I am furloughed from my job as a Federal contract worker and we have been told we will not be paid as long as the Government is closed.

    October 5, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  12. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Being a tea bagging right wing nut job is like being a card carrying member of al Qaida.

    October 5, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  13. TS

    So let me get this straight... Congress is going to take my tax paying dollars and give them to people to stay at home and do nothing.

    The Affordable Health Care Act (Obama Care) was enacted in November 2010, Congress had almost 3 years to work this out, but they wasted their time and now they want to give Federal workers a free vacation on my dime.

    If don't work I don't get paid, but if Congress doesn't work not only will they get paid but they can use my tax dollars to pay other people to do nothing!

    And they know they can't fight it because it was upheld by the Supreme Court, so this is all really for nothing, so they are wasting my money and they know it! This is just plain wrong on every level.

    October 5, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  14. Jennifer

    All of you saying that it was a free paid vacation have no idea what you are talking about. Not one furloughed employee asked to be let off the job nor did they not want to work. There are 800,000 workers that if this bill doesn't get signed will not be able to pay mortgages or put food on the table. I applied for unemployment and I am being told it can take up to 3 weeks to even get approved. We want to work! We want the government to come to a agreement and open up. This isn't a vacation for us. I have cried because I don't know what I am going to do. All I see is uncaring people that want others to suffer how sad this country is.

    October 5, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  15. Roger

    This does nothing for the thousands of contractors who will receive no back pay or compensation.

    October 5, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  16. blonde

    why should they not get paid? they were forced not to work? they want to work just like everyone else. tell congress to give all their pay back and the president so the goverment workers can get paid it was not their choice but congress because they cannot work togethir and do not want to compromise.

    October 5, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  17. kevin

    Now there is less pressure to have a budget deal or more importantly a debt ceiling deal. Republicans are getting smarter with their strategies.

    October 5, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  18. cam

    The Republicans just forced the Democrats to vote with them in paying federal workers. (piecemeal)

    October 5, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  19. Contractor2005

    What about the Contractors? I am a researcher at the NIH. I reckon I am not going to get any back-pay even though I do the same level of work as a Federal worker. In this era, where the number of contractors working for the Federal govt. has skyrocketed (compared to 2005-2006), there has to be some recourse.

    October 5, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  20. hrdwrknjoe

    WOW, wished I got an 'out of nowhere' paid vacation. Republicans and Tea P's should be screaming at this welfare/socialist vote.

    October 5, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  21. texasnotea

    Republicans are delusional and suffer from myway disease.

    October 5, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  22. joer

    That is brilliant, now we get all of the expense of government but none of the services. On top of that we have the expenses of closing and reopening. Thank you Tea Party Republicans, you really know how to cut a deficit.

    October 5, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  23. scout mom

    Of course they Did!!! What about the Soldiers and those on social security????

    October 5, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  24. Tonya

    If they want to get paid they should have to take vacation or give up the remainder of the holiday's they have for the year. Federal workers get more time off than any other worker in the country, while this was not their choice it is time off non the less that we can not afford in this country.

    October 5, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  25. John

    Congress is NOT giving them their back pay. . . the TAXPAYERS are and WE TAXPAYERS don't want to give them several more weeks of paid vacation. If they are going to get paid, BY US, we want them back at work!!!!!

    October 5, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
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