Reid: It’s ‘cruel’ to keep shutdown going

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Saturday that it was “cruel” of the House to pass a bill to retroactively pay federal workers affected by the government shutdown, but then not vote on a bill to reopen the government.

“The House has passed a bill to pay federal furloughed employees, but listen to this, once the government opens,” Reid said. “Well why wouldn’t we do that? … It’s really cruel to tell the workers they’ll get back pay but then not reopen the government.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Earlier Saturday, the House voted 407-0 for H.R. 3223, the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act, which upholds the longstanding tradition of paying back federal workers hit by government shutdowns. The Senate is expected to approve the measure, which the White House says President Obama wll sign.

Lawmakers are still at an impasse on how to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government, which has been shutdown since midnight Tuesday. 

Reid said Republicans treat federal workers as if they’re a “lower class of people.”

“We like federal employees on this side of the aisle,” Reid said during a rare Saturday session. “I want them to work.”

Reid has said Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) holds the “key” to reopening the government by holding a simple up-or-down vote on the Senate-passed 6-week CR.

"Why don’t we open the government and let people go to work and do their jobs," Reid said. "Let them go to work."