Two Virginia lawmakers introduced legislation on Tuesday to ensure that employees at the Department of Homeland Security receive back pay if there's a shutdown.
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), who represents a district near Washington, D.C., with a large population of federal workers, urged passage of a long-term DHS funding bill before the deadline of Friday at midnight. But if Congress slips past the deadline, Beyer and Rep. Rob WittmanRobert (Rob) Joseph WittmanOvernight Defense: House Armed Services starts defense bill markups | Two Navy sailors die of COVID-19 | Pentagon reimposes mask mandate in some places Passport backlog threatens to upend travel plans for millions of Americans Overnight Defense: Intel releases highly anticipated UFO report | Biden meets with Afghan president | Conservatives lash out at Milley MORE (R-Va.) have a contingency plan.
"In the absence of such action with time running dangerously short, DHS employees at the very least must be assured that there is an agreement in Congress that they will receive their full pay in a fair and timely manner," Beyer said in a House floor speech.
Nearly 90 percent of DHS employees are considered "essential," meaning they would still have to report to work, albeit without pay. Meanwhile, about 30,000 DHS employees would be furloughed in the event of a shutdown.
"We must guarantee they receive pay and that they not become collateral damage of Congress's refusal to reach an agreement," Beyer said.
Congress passed a bill during the 16-day government shutdown in 2013 that provided back pay for all affected federal workers. Lawmakers have passed similar measures during previous government shutdowns.