House to vote on back pay for furloughed government workers

The House will vote Saturday on legislation that would provide back pay for federal workers who have been furloughed during the government shutdown.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) office announced the House would remain in session to vote on new legislation that is “critical” to government operations.

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One of the bills will deal with back pay for furloughed federal workers and is likely to pass with support from both parties.

"The House will pass a bill to pay federal workers for their time in furlough once the shutdown ends,” Cantor said in a tweet.

The Obama administration released a statement on Friday saying it supports the bill.

“Federal workers keep the Nation safe and secure and provide vital services that support the economic security of American families,” the White House said. “The Administration appreciates that the Congress is acting promptly to move this bipartisan legislation and looks forward to the bill's swift passage.”

The White House has so far issued veto threats on every “piecemeal fiscal year 2014 appropriations legislation that restores only very limited activities,” but the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act is different in that it doesn't fund any government agencies that are presently shuttered.

Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) spokesman Michael Steel blasted the White House for backing pay for furloughed workers, but threatening to veto GOP bills that would fund parts of the government. 

“So, to recap, the President signed the troop funding bill, and does not oppose back pay, but he has promised to veto bills helping veterans, cancer research, national parks and the District of Columbia,” he said in a statement. “Interesting priorities.”

The White House has said it won't allow Republicans to "cherry-pick" which parts of the government it will fund.

Unions for federal workers have been lobbying hard for Congress to approve retroactive pay for their members, as was done after the last government shutdowns in the 1990s.

Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) introduced the bill, which is supported by three Virginia Republicans. Legislation on retroactive pay has also been introduced in the Senate.

The pay situation for federal workers was highlighted Thursday when police shot and killed a woman who rammed a barricade outside the White House and headed toward the Capitol. Lawmakers noted that U.S. Capitol Police officers are presently working without pay.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) highlighted the issue in a statement praising the police but did not speculate on whether the Senate would take up a potential House-passed bill to remedy the situation.

Speaking Friday on CBS’s "This Morning," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said “hopefully we can compensate them retroactively,” but other lawmakers have been more forceful in demanding that the Capitol Police get paid.

“That this government is shut down today and they’re not getting paid is a national disgrace,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told ABC News. “I suspect at the end of the day, they will get paid, but they have mortgages to meet; they have college loans to meet”

"These are not millionaires. They are struggling people who have families and kids," Sanders said.

Senators have been warned they may be working this weekend as well, though votes seem unlikely, because Democrats have rejected attempts by Republicans to fund the government through piecemeal appropriations bills.

Democrats say Republicans are trying to pick and choose what parts of the government to fund as a way to avoid providing money for ObamaCare.

Reid has so far rejected the GOP’s piecemeal approach, and Republicans have countered by voting on bills, such as funding for veterans, to put the Democrats in the difficult position of voting against something that has public support.



— This story was posted at 11:32 a.m. and updated at 1:33 p.m.

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