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. Very Aware

    You expect me to feel sorry gov't contractors who aren't going to get back pay after all this? What a joke! Contractors have made plenty off the gov't thanks to their bosses' BFFs in Congress, Senate & the WH. Gov't contractors easily make 2-3x more than feds and are constsntly raising their billable hours while decreasing the quality of work. Feds should be paid retroactively b/c when they go back to work they will have to undo, redo or somehow justify contractors' subpar work product. Contractors have made millions and billions off the gov't. Quit your whining.

    October 5, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    Is this picture the actual voting results for back pay? I can't believe it passed unanimously!?!?

    October 5, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  3. Hillcrester

    Theresa–This was approved by the a House with, apparently, no votes against. What does that tell you?

    October 5, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  4. disappointed citizen

    If we are going to retroactively pay the federal workers who are furloughed, then shouldn't we let them start working again? This is a waste of money when we do not have any extra money to spare as a country. I feel sorry for the federal workers and again this just prove how inefficient and stupid our Congress is today.

    Is this how Congress wants our future generation to know about how government suppose to work? That our government cannot achieve anything? It's time for the Congress to follow the law and the majority instead of follow their own agenda for personal gain.

    October 5, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    The main objective of the Tea party/GOP is that make people to resent their government so that their sponsors will be free to doing business like in the 18 hundred's. They know this measure will create resentment to the government workers by the public because no body get paid for doing nothing (like the resentment I read on this post) this will be a good thing for tea party/GOP they will come and say these are free loaders.

    October 5, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  6. Paul

    Instead of back pay, they should be going through the 800,000 jobs to see which ones they should cut.

    October 5, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  7. FurloughedFedWorker

    Ok look peeps.....I have read a few of the comments.....Tom Perry...we're getting back the money we lost that so many of us lower class gov workers really need for bills, food, gas, ect. Please understand that 90% of us really don't make the salary that many think we do – we are just above the poverty line as it is. Not trying to offend you or any one else....just explaining. Yary – the ones that had to stay and work will be paid for their time....like the rest of us eventually when it's convenient.... This affects everyone because many companies conduct business with the gov even in the private sectors and no business means no money which means somebody is losing a job in that sector permanently and I really hurt for the families across the country in that situation. KW is right – many families probably won't see their money back with the federal contracts – although if your fed contract is still in effect – not expired already, those were prepaid so I think it's unfair if they don't pay them as well! ( a fed peep has to be in an office a contractor works for for that contractor to be able to go to work – but as the vast majority of us are deemed unessential, it screws the contractor.) It is screwing us all all the way around. I barely clear over 2000 a month for all my living expenses, don't have the fundage to waste on things like a cup of coffee even at a gas station most times or a candy bar, much less to save for my kids education. I am very low on the totem in my gov job and make a few dollars over the cutoff to be able to receive gov assistance that many take for granted and abuse if that gives you a better idea of what the greater % of us make. I am happy to make enough to pay my bills though but when they shutdown, it puts me in the same predicament that a lot of people face across the board – gov employed or not – I depend on every penny I work for to make ends meet and when it's not there, the bills still must be paid....they aren't much concerned that we're not getting paid....they want their payment on time too. I too face losing my home, my electricity, heck my sanity it feels like some days because many of us across the board are still trying to recover from the last furlough and this compounds situations for all. I am praying for us all....I really wish the best to everyone out there as I hope for the best for the uncertain future of my family as well.

    October 5, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  8. T.K. secret

    why are they not back to work like the others that are?

    October 5, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  9. Vincent A. Salgado

    Eight weeks of paid vacation? This is simply not true. Check your facts Anon.....federal workers get far less than than and only after 15 years of service.

    October 5, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  10. USA USA USA

    This headline should read... 800,000 FEDERAL EMPLOYEES ENJOY A FREE PAID VACATION!! Courtesy of YOUR TAX DOLLARS!! The last part will be in very fine print mind you.

    ~USA USA USA

    October 5, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  11. Jerry Okamura

    If a business had to temporarily shut down, do you think that when they did reopen, they would pay their workers back pay? If yes, would all them do that?

    October 5, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  12. Dave

    800,000 furloughed people did not choose this nor the 6 week sequestration furlough. If you are upset about back pay then vote and send people to Washington who can get stuff done. Those in civilian sector who are upset try to live with this constant uncertainty, you get laided off you get unemployment, gov employees furloughed in sequestration we're not eligible, just had to eat 20% pay cut.

    October 5, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  13. Guardian Transition Services, Inc.

    This is hilarious really. Republicans: We must shut down the government because it is wasting money! ... oh by the way, lets pass a bill that makes sure every single person who is staying home because we shut down the government still gets paid... Its the same amount of money to let them work as to force them to stay home! They are throwing our money away lol. Let the people work darn it!

    October 5, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  14. Elizabeth

    The thousands of federal contract employees who won't receive back-pay are being ignored by the media and the government.

    October 5, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  15. Dan

    As a federal employee who's still working through this shutdown, I'm happy to hear many of my furloughed coworkers will not have to worry about losing their homes or hurting their credit scores. It's pretty silly though, if everyone is going to get paid just let us all go to work. Many of the furloughed employees I talked to agreed they'd rather be working, even though now they know they'll eventually get back pay.

    Also, the laziest slackers working for the government are the Congressmen who caused this mess, not the rank and file fed who's just trying to do their job despite all the politics that keep that from happening!

    October 5, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  16. bill dixon

    Democrats can be bi-partisan, so why not their colleagues?

    October 5, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  17. TheMoney

    So federal worker furlough becomes a paid vacation... wish I had that!

    October 5, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  18. ED1

    Doesn't that defeat the purpose.

    October 5, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  19. xenaphon

    Good news, we get paid for 1 Oct through when ever it all ends······Now what about my pay for the 8 days they took from me during sequestration?

    October 5, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  20. Q1

    The 800,000 should get all their pay. I would rather give these working people their pay, because at least they work for their money, than the majority of welfare recipients that have neither contributed nor do anything for my hard earned tax dollars. As soon as I see welfare recipients cleaning the roads, picking up litter, and removing graffiti, at least, then I may see this as a "paid vacation." Until then, YES!

    October 5, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  21. Jack

    In regards to furloughed workers back pay. This has been the case in the past. I was a Fed Government Employee, from 1975 to 1996. My job was always considered "essential services" so I worked my regular shifts. The furloughed employees always got paid after the budgets were settled.

    October 5, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  22. edog355

    A free, paid vacation for 800,000 employees that could last for weeks, maybe months – and then we all wonder why this country broke.

    October 5, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  23. G

    republicans only want the tax paying public to pay for their mistake

    October 5, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  24. Linda

    What about the flowdown from all of this? Lockheed Martin just furloughed 3,000 employees. I'm sure others will be following suit

    October 5, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  25. Be A True Leader

    Moron/Shameless DC Politicians, how about all affected businesses and their furloughed workers around the country? At 2014/16elections, you are fired!

    October 5, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
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