Pence endorses bill for workers' back pay in speech to border agents

Pence endorses bill for workers' back pay in speech to border agents
© Stefani Reynolds

Vice President Pence on Friday expressed support for a bill that would ensure workers affected by a partial government shutdown that began in December would receive full back pay when the shutdown ends.

Speaking to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents at the agency's Washington, D.C., headquarters, Pence said the bill the House passed earlier Friday would have the full support of the White House.

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"We've made sure that tax refunds are going out on schedule. We made sure that food stamp benefits will go forward," Pence told agents on Friday.

"I'm also pleased to report to you that with the full support of the president of the United States, just moments ago the House of Representatives passed legislation that will ensure that all the dedicated professionals at Custom and Border Protection and all of the agencies affected by this shutdown will be paid in full," Pence said. "Your families will get your paychecks."

Pence went on to address the Trump administration's desire for border security measures, which he said was necessary to stop roughly 60,000 illegal border crossings per month.

"The reality is today we have about 60,000 people attempting to come into our country illegally every single month. For the first time ever, driven mostly by smugglers, cartels and human traffickers, 60 percent of those apprehended now are families and children," Pence said.

"It is putting, as you all know, an extraordinary burden on our U.S. Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection," he added.

CBP agents, along with other essential federal employees such as Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents, remained at work without pay on Friday as the partial shutdown of the federal government dragged into its 21st day.

Thousands of workers experienced their first full pay period without a paycheck on Friday as Congress left town for the weekend following weeks of negotiations between Democratic lawmakers and the White House over funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The president has vowed to keep the federal government partially shut down until Democrats approve more than $5 billion in funding for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, which Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiHouse Dems unveil measure to reject anti-Israel boycotts Freshman Dems to meet with Obama next week The Hill's Morning Report - Trump's intraparty feuds divide Republicans MORE (D-Calif.) has said will not happen.

Last week, Trump reiterated his desire to negotiate an end to the shutdown with Democrats while insinuating that most of the furloughed federal workers affected by the shutdown were not his supporters.