Floor Action

Contractor back pay not included in shutdown deal

Back pay for federal contractors impacted by the recent partial government shutdown did not make it into a funding deal expected to be filed later Wednesday, a source told The Hill.

A Democratic source, asked if the provision made into the agreement, said "nothing extra was included [because] Republicans refused to do back pay."

In addition to back pay for contractors, an extension of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is not expected to be included in the funding deal. The Senate is expected to vote first on Thursday on the agreement, according to a Senate source.

The fight over back pay for federal contractors moved into the spotlight earlier Wednesday when Democrats accused Republicans of refusing to include it in the bill. 

"Thousands of federal contractors have not been reimbursed from the 35-day shutdown. This issue is still hanging in the balance," Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said from the Senate floor. "No one should stand in the way of that. It's just not fair to them. They were hostages."

A Democratic source familiar with the negotiations said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was objecting to including the back pay for contractors.

A spokesman for McConnell directed questions about the issue to the Office of Management and Budget. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of GOP leadership, said he has been told President Trump won't sign it.

A source familiar with the legislation said the administrative cost for implementing the new back pay requirements would be almost as high as the pay out to contractors impacted by the partial government shutdown.

But outside groups and Democratic staffers expressed skepticism about the notion that implementing back pay for impacted contractors could cost hundreds of millions of dollars, pushing back on the claim.

A Democratic aide added that the back pay legislation, which was also introduced a stand-alone bill by Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), would build on an administrative process that already exists for processing other claims from contractors.

Smith, in a statement on Wednesday night, pledged to keep working to get back pay for federal workers impacted by the 35-day government shutdown.

"According to recent reports, it seems they are left out in the cold, with no back pay. My legislation to right this wrong, which had bipartisan support, should have been included in the final budget deal, but I'm not done fighting to make this right, and I'll keep on working to get it done," she said. 

Outbrain