(CNN) – Quick passage of a bill to provide back-pay to furloughed federal workers appeared in doubt on Monday when the No. 2 Senate Republican said it’s not time to address that issue right now.
“I think it’s really premature to be dealing with that until we resolve the underlying problem,” said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas. “We’ve offered a number of bills to try to alleviate some of the hardship and they’ve been swatted down out of hand.”
Cornyn said he didn’t expect Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to bring it to the floor because of GOP objections.
The House unanimously passed a bill on Saturday to provide back pay to the hundreds of thousands of federal employees impacted by the government shutdown, and the White House said it supported it.
In past shutdowns, Congress routinely approved similar measures.
“There is no sense of urgency for us to do it. The federal government is shut down,” said Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican of North Carolina who supports providing back pay but not until the government has reopened. “I think it’s very legitimate to take our time on this and hopefully Senator Reid will open it up for amendments and we can see how it ends up.”
Cornyn said if Democrats put the bill on the floor Republicans would not be okay with legislative shortcuts to pass it – such as a voice vote or unanimous consent agreement.
Asked if the bill should be subject to amendments and filibusters – procedures that could delay passage for several days - Cornyn said, “yeah, we ought to legislate.”