Va. lawmakers introduce bill to guarantee back pay for furloughed federal workers

Va. lawmakers introduce bill to guarantee back pay for furloughed federal workers
© Noel St. John

Virginia Reps. Don Beyer (D) and Rob WittmanRobert (Rob) Joseph WittmanVirginia Port: Gateway to the economic growth Republican lawmakers ask Trump not to delay Pentagon cloud-computing contract Overnight Defense: Latest on House defense bill markup | Air Force One, low-yield nukes spark debate | House Dems introduce resolutions blocking Saudi arms sales | Trump to send 1,000 troops to Poland MORE (R) introduced a bill Thursday that would guarantee back pay for federal workers affected by a possible furlough in the event of a government shutdown.

In a press release Thursday afternoon, the two lawmakers announced a bill with 40 bipartisan co-sponsors that would guarantee no federal worker loses pay as a result of a possible government shutdown. The federal government runs out of money at midnight Friday.

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“We are working hard to avoid a government shutdown, but if it comes our bill would protect federal workers from the worst of the consequences,” Beyer said in the release.

“This legislation is designed to shield civil servants, who need to support their families, from the disastrous effects of Congress’ failure to agree on a budget measure. We hope it will not be needed, but time is running out,” he said.

Virginia is home to a large number of federal employees, and the two districts represented by Beyer and Wittman, Virginia's 8th and 1st, respectively, represent nearly 120,000 federal workers, according to the release.

"Federal employees should not be penalized for Congress’s inability to get its job done on time," Wittman said. "This legislation sends a clear signal to our federal workers that they will not be harmed in the unfortunate event of a shutdown."

The move from the two lawmakers was praised by the American Federation of Government Employees, a union representing 700,000 government employees.

"Federal employees and their families should not be forced to go without pay when they are not allowed to do their jobs because Congress cannot pass a funding measure. Too many Americans — veterans, seniors and other hardworking people rely on services provided by the federal government. In a government shutdown, it is the American people who pay the price," the union's president said in the statement.

Congressional Republicans are frantically trying to build support to pass a spending bill that would keep the government funded in the face of near-unanimous opposition from Democrats over issues such as a deal on immigration and health-care funding.