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

    Democrats shouldn't pass anything until the teapublicans capitulate.

    October 5, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  2. SMR

    This sounds like a great deal. No work and still get paid. I wish this happens in private sector too. This is a joke, make tax payers pay for their incompetancy

    October 5, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  3. blondeprincess

    Yes I am getting a paid vacation "eventually". Until then I have to wonder how I'm going to pay my bills. It could be at least a month before I get backpay but my bills still have to be paid. Those who are criticizing us federal employees about us being furloughed need to get a life and a job. You are jealous and most of you complaining probably live off the government and get welfare and foodstamps. I love my federal job and I do work hard when I am working. If you worked for the federal government you wouldn't be complaining about getting a so called "paid vacation".

    October 5, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  4. Amy

    This is wrong, and I am a federal employee. This stupidity has got to stop. If Congress would pass a budget, then no one would be furloughed and there would be no need to pay people for not working. I pay taxes too, and this is BS. We were furloughed this summer and did not get paid, and we should not be paid now.

    October 5, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  5. me2

    Dear Fed workers,

    I lost 2 weeks pay in August when my company, the world's 4th largest employer, took it from hundreds of thousands.

    Welcome to the Real World – well not so much for you still. whine whine whine

    October 5, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  6. Angie

    My husband has been one of those employees that has to report to work but not get paid. No vacation or sick time off. The government needs to get their act together! Just because they passed this does not mean paychecks start only after the shutdown ends. So what do all the families do in the mean time? Working for the government is not a good thing anymore they hold your life hostage to play their childish games. I am sure if their paychecks were touched they would find solutions quickly but ironically there is bill that was passed to protect congress paychecks. God Bless America! We are lead by ignorant selfish power hungry me and womenM

    October 5, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  7. mph

    And oh by the way – I'D MUCH RATHER BE WORKING! Work is piling up, deadlines are being missed, and most importantly, soldiers are getting crap for support right now. Don't think its all fun -our pay has been frozen for three years, we have been on furlough days for two months, and now this. For some of us it isn't just the pay – its pride in doing a good job and working under conditions like this -especially with high level of oversight and micromanaging – makes it very hard. Cushy my a $$.

    October 5, 2013 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  8. penguin

    Now Federal employees will get paid for not working just like members of Congress. The only difference is that they have to wait until the shutdown ends while members of Congress keep getting paid even during the shutdown.
    But if they are still getting paid why not have them work through the shutdown? ("Essential" federal employees still have to work through the shutdown and wait until its over to get paid- seems a bit unfair to workers who are essential, but Congress never cares about being fair.

    October 5, 2013 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  9. Lebanobibi

    Obama & Reid responsible for the shut down!! All Americans must be exempt for one year as Unions and big corporations!!! That's insane ! We want fairness , stop playing around Obama , drop down to the people's

    October 5, 2013 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  10. Carl

    Gee, I'd LOVE to be sent home from work and then get paid for it.

    Oh wait...MY bosses aren't complete idiots!!

    October 5, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  11. APG

    There is not one federal employee who asked for this mess. The Shutdown was not a result of money not being there, it was purely about the most poorly played chess game ever. If funding was an issue the government runs a Reduction in Forces (RIF) they don't just tell you to go home sit and wait. Each of us choose our professional path, so those of us that are federal civilians have had to accept this as we are not allowed to speak out against our leaders. We have suffered in silence through this all the while contemplating how bills will be paid. What happened amounts to showing up to work only to find the building boarded up and the employer has disappeared. There is not one person who would hesitate to feel lost, cheated and demoralized by this action.

    Don't misunderstand me because we have lots of federal employees who are not productive and feed the stereotype of the lazy and overpaid federal employee. Those are the ones that supervisors, managers and chiefs are failing to deal with by doing the work to get rid of them. Before anyone jumps all over my last statement, YES you can fire a useless federal civilian!

    We as citizens need to focus on what has happened with our elected officials rather than stirring the pot against one another. Federal employees did not ask for this but step up for deployments, 12 hour days and more sacrifices for the mission of this country. There is no quicker way to destroy this country is to add 800,000 to the unemployment roles overnight.

    October 5, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  12. Lisa Ann

    Yes, I am VERY thankful this is happening as a furloughed government employee...But those of you pointing fingers at us like we "chose" to sit at home and then get back pay and just had a "vacation" for the past couple days are pointing fingers at the wrong people. I didn't ask to sit at home uncertain about when my next paycheck was going to be or whether I needed to get another job to make ends meet or call my creditors to work out some type of financial plan. This was far from a vacation in my book. I also don't think its fair to those who had to work because I did have some of my family members and coworkers supporting our mission during this furlough. But again, they didn't ask for it either. I think the finger pointing and blame belongs solely to the "running our country"...

    October 5, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  13. sailor

    How can they pass anything when the government is shutdown? The only thing they should be working on is getting the government back up and running. What a bunch of deadheads.

    October 5, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  14. Lebanobibi

    Republicans must vote to impeach Obama? And Reid the communist!

    October 5, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  15. Benson

    Translation- All govt employees get an extra one month of paid vacation this year, at tax-payer expense.

    October 5, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  16. Mike

    Now we are going to pay furloughed workers for not working just like the Republicans who are not working. Don't think so.

    October 5, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  17. Sol

    It was a given (Vacation w/pay)

    October 5, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  18. rtkmd

    Amazing. I thought the point of the shutdown was to save money. So now they want to pay employees to not work. Sheesh!

    October 5, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  19. Angie

    Hey I have a great idea, why don't we make the senators in both houses pay the back pay for all of the federal workers out of their own paychecks since they caused all this? Who's gonna pay for this? This will only put more stress on the debt celing along with all the wasteful spending, fraud and the billions being spent overseas to help everyone and their brothers and lets not forget the non stop wars we seem to find a way to get involved with. I have really had it with our government and poor excuses for senators who only care about what makes their parties look better. Not what's best for the American people!!!!

    October 5, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  20. Woman In California

    Let's see now. Using this logic, I just won the lottery but I can't collect the money (even though I desperately need it now) until YOU say I can collect it? Are these fools for real? These people need a paycheck NOW. They can't afford to wait until the ACA is repealed (which it never will be). So in short, the House did nothing as usual. These home grown terrorists need to all get out of our government so this country can once again thrive.

    October 5, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  21. Carol

    I don't have a problem that these federal workers get paid but then why don't we put them back to work earning their pay. After all, they are not politicians.

    October 5, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  22. Tannous

    The worst about this debacle is perhaps that it has provoked envy in some and semi-licit pleasure in others.

    October 5, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  23. Mike the Veteran

    So let me guess, Repubs talk fiscal conservation, shut the government down and then want to pay employees when no work was performed? I am a Fed employee myself and furloughed. So I am getting free money? What kind of stupidity is that? Truly shows how politicians have pushed politiking in a totally wrong direction....

    October 5, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  24. Ed

    I say don't bring any of them back then. I'd just as soon get rid of the whole lot of them starting with EVERY politician and start from scratch. What a bunch of idiots we have become to blindly follow the politicians while we go down the toilet. I'm just about sick and tired of hearing both sides slam each other on TV every hour. Every time I hear that regardless of Republican or Democrate it reminds me how EVERY issue is political and what a racket politics is.

    October 5, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  25. Dale

    So what was the point of this Government Shutdown if everyone is getting paid? Sending them back to work is easier.

    October 5, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
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