Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., introduced a measure to guarantee back pay.

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., introduced a measure to guarantee back pay. Andrew Harnik/AP

Lawmakers Push for Immediate Back Pay for Feds if Government Shuts Down

Senate leader warns shutdown is "right before our eyes."

Lawmakers are starting to prepare for a government shutdown, and they want to make sure federal employees are taken care of if the ensuing furloughs come to pass.

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., on Wednesday introduced the 2015 Federal Employee Fair Treatment Act, which would guarantee that employees forced to not work and forgo pay eventually receive their normal salaries. While federal statute forbids federal employees from receiving pay during an appropriations lapse, Cardin’s bill would ensure furloughed feds are paid retroactively as soon as possible after the government reopens.

In the 2013 shutdown, which lasted 16 days, back pay for furloughed feds was not guaranteed until lawmakers struck the final deal to fund agencies and reopen government. Even then, most furloughed federal workers only received their retroactive pay on their next scheduled paycheck. While the government reopened on Oct. 17, they did not collect their wages until Oct. 25.

Cardin’s bill seeks to change that process, requiring agencies to issue back pay immediately upon the government’s reopening rather than waiting for the regular pay cycle. The Interior Business Center, which handles payroll for 240,000 federal employees, sent out retroactive pay a week before the regularly scheduled Oct. 29 paychecks went out.

The legislation would also require the “as soon as possible” payment for “excepted” workers, who are forced to work without pay during a shutdown but are guaranteed back pay. In 2013, about 900,000 federal workers were initially furloughed, though that number decreased significantly when then Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recalled most of his furloughed civilians during the first week of the shutdown. About 60 percent of the federal workforce reported to work while facing delayed paychecks, as their jobs were deemed essential to protecting life or property or their salaries were paid by funds not subject to annual appropriations. 

On the eve of the shutdown, Congress separately guaranteed the on-time delivery of military paychecks during the appropriations lapse. Democrats also supported legislation to provide retroactive pay for civilian feds prior to the last shutdown, but the guarantee was not made until the shutdown ended.

Federal employee groups praised Cardin’s legislation, but said they are still working to avoid a shutdown altogether.

“Employees who are furloughed or forced to work without pay during a shutdown shouldn’t be punished because they didn’t create the problem,” said National Treasury Employees Union President Tony Reardon. “As the experience from 2013 showed us, shutting down the government benefits no one and achieves nothing. All it will do is create financial anxiety and hardship for federal employees, infuriate the American public and hurt the economy.”

Lawmakers have until Oct. 1 to stave off a shutdown. The normal appropriations process has stalled, with the White House and Republican leadership in Congress far from reaching an agreement on spending levels. President Obama has promised to veto any appropriations bill that does not raise funding above the caps established by the 2011 Budget Control Act. Further complicating matters is a push from conservatives in Congress to vote against any spending bill -- short or long-term -- that maintains funding for Planned Parenthood.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Tuesday called for a short-term continuing resolution to give congressional negotiators time to strike a budget deal that avoids a sequester.

“We have a looming government shutdown,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “It’s right before our eyes.” He added Republicans have “wasted far too much” time refusing to negotiate, and called for a “clean continuing resolution for a short period of time that allows us to do a more full, more complete deal in the near future.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said on Tuesday the Obama administration is still pushing for a long-term deal that boosts spending levels, but would not rule out the president signing a CR. 

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.