Legislation Would Provide Pay to Federal Employees Working in Shutdowns

Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT) has announced a bill to pay excepted federal employees as part of a plan he is proposing to reopen the government.

Legislation has been introduced in the House that would end the practice of federal employees having to work without pay during the current or future partial government shutdowns.

Introduced by Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT), H.R. 710 would prohibit the practice of requiring federal employees who are deemed as excepted to work without pay in a shutdown.

A similar bill was previously introduced in the House by Congressman Bob Gibbs (R-OH). It would require pay for essential federal employees during the shutdown as well.

Welch announced his bill in a press conference in which he also proposed a way to end the stalemate in Washington to reopen the government.

The three part plan he announced for reopening the government would do the following:

  • The government would reopened fully as soon as possible, and Welch said he thinks both parties could agree on this without much difficulty. Afterwards, the House Appropriations Committee would begin debate on the Administration’s request for $5.7 billion in new border security funding. The Department of Homeland Security will be given the opportunity in a public hearing to fully flesh out the details of how the requested funding would be spent and the results it could be expected to achieve;
  • The bill would be guaranteed a vote on the House floor by the end of February.
  • Members of the House would be permitted to offer amendments to the bill, including those related to the status of Dreamers and those with Temporary Protected Status.

“It defies common sense and anyone’s definition of fairness to require federal employees to work without pay,” Welch said. “Never again should federal employees be caught in the middle of a budget standoff in Washington. This bill would immediately resume paychecks for hundreds of thousands of federal employees, including TSA agents, air traffic controllers, Coast Guard, National Weather Service, and CBP and ICE agents and officers.”

Controversy Over Tweets

Welch sent out a tweet in which he promoted his new bill and said, “Never in the history of this country has it been legal to make people work for free but that’s what’s happening to federal employees.”

After numerous replies to the tweet criticized Welch for appearing to ignore the history of slavery in the United States, he later issued another tweet in which he apologized for the initial statement:

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. 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.