Senate Passes Bill to Pay Federal Employees After Shutdown

Legislation to guarantee back pay to federal employees has passed the Senate.

Update: The House passed this bill on January 11, 2019. President Trump signed it into law on January 16.

The Senate passed legislation today that would guarantee all federal employees will be fully compensated once the ongoing partial government shutdown concludes.

The Government Employee Fair Treatment Act (S. 24) was recently introduced in the new session of Congress by Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD). It passed by voice vote in the Senate without objection.

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.

President Trump said that he will sign the bill if it passes Congress.

In a statement on the Senate floor, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, “I had an opportunity to talk to President Trump a few moments ago and wanted to indicate to our colleagues that he will sign the bill that we’ve been discussing here to guarantee that government workers who’ve been displaced as a result of the shutdown will ultimately be compensated.”

Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) had said the Senate should not adjourn without ensuring that federal workers will get paid by passing the bill:

The Office of Personnel Management also directed agencies this week to restore annual leave to federal employees that was scheduled in advance of the shutdown.

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.