Congress approves back pay for workers affected by current shutdown, future ones


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The House on Friday cleared a bill that would ensure back pay for federal workers missing paychecks as a result of the partial government shutdown, as well as guarantee payment for employees affected by any future closures.

The measure passed with broad bipartisan support, 411 to 7. All seven votes against the bill came from Republicans.

“On the first day that some of our federal employees will miss their paycheck, Congress is saying and guaranteeing that workers will be paid not only for this shutdown, but God forbid if we have any future ones, that their pay will be guaranteed,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday.

President Trump has indicated he would sign the bill, which the Senate passed unanimously on Thursday.

“I had an opportunity to talk to President Trump a few moments ago and wanted to indicate to our colleagues that he will sign the bill that we’ve been discussing here to guarantee that government workers who’ve been displaced as a result of the shutdown will ultimately be compensated,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor Thursday night.

The shutdown has prevented federal employees in nine departments and several smaller agencies from receiving their paychecks, whether they were furloughed or required to work in roles deemed essential.

While Congress has always voted to provide back pay following shutdowns, federal employees have nonetheless had to endure the uncertainty of whether they would be paid. Friday’s bill would eliminate that uncertainty in future shutdowns, though it would provide payments only after shutdowns end.

Employees missed their first paychecks on Friday. Most federal workers received the bulk of their last paycheck in late December because it covered all but one day of the two-week pay period that preceded the lapse in government funding.

With the shutdown now tied for the longest in the nation’s history, and no end in sight, federal workers are entering uncharted territory.

Senate Democrats are pushing to provide back pay for low-wage government contractors, such as food service workers, security guards and custodial staff, whose pay was not addressed in the bill that now heads to the White House.

Trump has said he would not sign legislation to open the government unless it includes $5.7 billion for his proposed border wall. Democrats have refused to provide more than the $1.3 billion for fencing that was provided in last year’s appropriations.

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