Senate Democrats Introduce Bill Protecting Federal Employee Pay Ahead of Possible Shutdown

Flickr user Mount Rainier National Park

As the possibility of a government shutdown at the end of April looms, some Democratic senators want to give federal employees peace of mind that they will not end up losing any pay regardless of whether their offices close.

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., introduced a bill (S.861) Wednesday that would ensure that in the event of a shutdown on April 28, the date on which current funding expires, federal workers would be given back pay once the government reopened. The Federal Employee Fair Treatment Act would guarantee back pay for all employees, whether or not they had been considered essential and forced to work during the closure or had been furloughed.

Typically, when there is a shutdown, such as in 2013, agencies are required to pay employees deemed essential to the protection of life and property, but not until after the shutdown ends. Furloughed employees have no guarantee they will be paid at all unless Congress approves back pay—something legislators have always done.

» Get the best federal news and ideas delivered right to your inbox. Sign up here.

Cardin’s bill, which is similar to a measure he introduced in 2015 when Congress last faced a possible shutdown, stresses that back pay should be doled out as soon as possible after a shutdown is over, regardless of when the next pay date is scheduled.

“Our bill is the right thing to do and the fair thing to do,” Cardin said in a statement. “Federal workers are dedicated public servants who simply want to do their jobs on behalf of the American people. They shouldn’t suffer because of extreme partisan gamesmanship.”

The bill also would allow for employees exempted from furloughs to use paid leave as they normally would during normal governmental operations.

The proposal drew cheers from federal employee groups like the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents 150,000 employees across 31 federal agencies. NTEU National President Tony Reardon said federal workers still vividly remember the uncertainty of the 16-day government shutdown in 2013 and are not keen to repeat the experience.

“We are hopeful that Congress can avoid a disruption in government services,” Reardon said. “But just in case, it is good to know that Sen. Cardin and his colleagues are looking out for federal employees who would otherwise be forced to pay for the political impasse.”

(Image via Flickr user Mount Rainier National Park)

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.