Democrats renew push for contractor back pay from government shutdown

Democrats renew push for contractor back pay from government shutdown

Democratic senators are pushing their colleagues to support an amendment that would provide back pay for low-wage government contractors who went without pay during the record 35-day shutdown earlier this year.

When Congress passed a spending bill to reopen the government in January, lawmakers provided back pay for federal employees who had been furloughed and those who had been required to work without pay.

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But many workers employed by contractors for security, cleaning or food service jobs were not compensated for the month of lost wages.

“They were ready and willing to work every single day of the 35-day shutdown, but they couldn’t,” said Sen. Tina SmithTina Flint SmithSix mayors making a difference Klobuchar releases names of bundlers Living in limbo may end for Liberians in the US MORE (D-Minn.), who introduced a back pay amendment to a package of spending bills the Senate is considering this week.

The amendment, which was included in a House-passed spending measure, would allow contracting companies to apply for funding to provide back pay for workers.

Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenImpeachment trial begins with furor over rules Fox's Bill Hemmer sees sizable viewer increase for debut in Shep Smith's former time slot Roberts under pressure from both sides in witness fight MORE (D-Md.), a co-sponsor of the amendment, said the affected workers earn as little as $450 a week and are still suffering from the lost pay.

“These are not people living high on the hog,” he said.

If the amendment is adopted, the provision will almost certainly make it into the final spending bill since it's already in the House version. If the Senate rejects the amendment, negotiators could push for leaving the House provision intact in the final version.

The amendment would only provide retroactive pay for the most recent shutdown. It would not apply to future shutdowns.

Congress has until Nov. 21 to pass spending legislation or an extension of current funding in order to prevent another shutdown. The lack of progress in negotiations, primarily centered around President TrumpDonald John TrumpRouhani says Iran will never seek nuclear weapons Trump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions Trump says Bloomberg is 'wasting his money' on 2020 campaign MORE’s proposed border wall, has led to concerns in the Senate that a new temporary spending bill might extend funding into February or March.