Members propose paying federal workers hit by government shutdown

Dozens of House members proposed legislation Monday that would ensure the full, retroactive compensation of federal workers affected by the partial government shutdown that took place Oct. 1.

Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) proposed the bill, along with nearly 30 House Democrats and three Republicans from Virginia who represent thousands of federal workers — Reps. Scott Rigell, Rob Wittman and Frank Wolf.

The Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act, H.R. 3223, would make sure all nonessential federal workers affected by the shutdown receive any pay they missed while out on furlough. This retroactive pay must be approved by Congress, or those workers will remain uncompensated.

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Moran said Monday that the idea of asking the divided Congress to approve retroactive pay is "deeply concerning." But he said these workers should not have to pay for Congress's inability to find an agreement on 2014 spending.

"Nearly a million federal workers could lose their pay because Congress failed to do its job and keep the government up and running," Moran said.

"Our hardworking federal workforce — middle-class Americans who support our war fighters, defend our borders, keep our air clean and food safe, care for our veterans, and fulfill many other critical services — should not have to face furloughs," added Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), another sponsor of the bill. "Like so many other Americans, they have mortgages to meet, college tuitions to pay and families to support."

The Obama administration estimates that up to 800,000 federal workers could be furloughed under the shutdown. Supporters of the bill note that, while many of these are concentrated in the Washington, D.C., area, 85 percent of furloughed workers are in other areas of the country.

The shutdown happened after the House insisted that a continuing spending resolution somehow mitigate the effects of ObamaCare, and the Senate insisted on a spending bill that leaves ObamaCare alone.

Both chambers are in Tuesday with nothing else on the schedule except trying to find a way forward, although it was unclear how the deeply divided chambers might compromise.

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