Update: Lawmakers Approve Post-Shutdown Back Pay for Feds

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., speaks to the media after attending a meeting with a bipartisan group of senators on Monday, Jan. 22, on day three of the government shutdown. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., speaks to the media after attending a meeting with a bipartisan group of senators on Monday, Jan. 22, on day three of the government shutdown. Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Update: The Senate approved back pay for furloughed federal employees by unanimous consent, and the House approved the measure Monday evening. 

Democratic senators successfully pushed for quick action on a bill that would grant federal employees back pay for the hours lost to furloughs as a result of the government shutdown.

The Senate moved Monday to end debate on a three-week spending package to fund the government until Feb. 8, premised on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s commitment to bring to the floor an immigration bill that addresses enrollees in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The House approved the continuing resolution and sent the bill to President Trump for his signature Monday evening.

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Congress failed to reach a deal to keep the government open ahead of last Friday’s deadline, and negotiations stalled through the weekend, meaning hundreds of thousands of federal employees were furloughed Monday. Although workers who were deemed essential by agencies will receive pay as normal after the government reopens this week, lawmakers must approve a measure to pay furloughed feds for the time they missed.

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., said Monday that despite the short duration of the weekend shutdown, the bill he introduced—the Federal Employee Fair Treatment Act (S. 2274)—was necessary to make federal workers whole.

“[There are] a couple of ways we think we can get that achieved, and we think we can get that done as early as today,” Cardin said.

“That was something we fought very hard for,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. He and Cardin wanted to ensure “all federal employees are held harmless. They had nothing to do with the shutdown mess and they should be fully paid.” 

On Friday, the White House signaled in a call with reporters that it would support the bill.

Eric Katz contributed to this report.

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