Updated: Thursday, January 10, 2019 6:39 PM EST
Update: The Senate passed the legislation on Thursday, January 10.
Legislation that was introduced in the last session of Congress has been reintroduced in the new Congress that convened today that would guarantee back pay to federal employees furloughed during the ongoing partial government shutdown.
The Government Employee Fair Treatment Act (S. 24) was reintroduced by Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) who also introduced it in the 115th Congress. The bill passed the Senate in the last Congress but never advanced further before the new Congress convened.
The legislation would guarantee that furloughed federal employees will be paid retroactively and stipulates that all employees shall be paid as soon as possible after the lapse in appropriations ends. It also clarifies that excepted employees who have scheduled previously approved leave occurring during an appropriations lapse may indeed take that leave without undue penalty. The bill also clarifies that its provisions also apply to employees of the District of Columbia (DC) Government, D.C. Courts, and D.C. Public Defenders Service, who are also affected by federal government shutdowns.
“Federal workers are dedicated public servants who simply want to do their jobs on behalf of the American people. They shouldn’t continue to suffer – working dangerous jobs without knowing when their next paycheck may come, or being forcibly furloughed and unable to carry out their mission – because of extreme partisan gamesmanship,” said Senator Cardin. “This and all government shutdowns have real consequences for hard-working federal employees across the country and the local economies they support as consumers. Congress should pass this bill and the president should sign it as a symbol of good faith and respect for the men and women who keep our country safe and moving forward.”
Companion legislation (H.R. 67) has been reintroduced in the House by Congressmen Rob Wittman (R-VA) and Don Beyer (D-VA). It passed the House on Friday, January 4.
Beyer said in a letter to the editor published in the New York Times, “There is near certainty that all federal workers will receive their back pay, as they have in every other recent government shutdown.”