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Lawmakers push retroactive pay for furloughed feds

Several House lawmakers are seeking to ensure that federal workers who are furloughed are paid retroactively for that time.

Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., on Friday introduced a bill (H.R. 1429) that would compensate all federal employees at the end of a shutdown regardless of their furlough status. Reps. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and Frank Wolf, R-Va., are co-sponsors.

"If the government shuts down, nearly a million federal employees will go without pay," Moran said in a statement. "Despite what happened in the mid-90s, I'm deeply concerned furloughed employees won't get retroactive pay. If we shut down, it won't be the federal employee's fault and they shouldn't be penalized for Congress' failure to act, particularly when members of Congress will continue to receive their pay."

Federal employees, including military service members, would not receive a paycheck during a shutdown. Those required to work during the hiatus (both military and civilian) would receive pay retroactively once funding is restored.The last time the government shut down in 1995 and 1996, for 27 days at an overall cost of $1.4 billion, furloughed federal employees were paid retroactively for the time they were off the job. But Congress must approve back pay for employees subject to furlough.

Moran announced plans to introduce the legislation during a town hall meeting on Thursday night. He said he believes nearly 100,000 federal employees in the Washington area are likely to be furloughed, but he cautioned that government workers should not take the possibility of being reimbursed for granted.

National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley said the bill is about fairness to federal workers.

"The loss of pay will cause a tremendous hardship on federal employees and their families," Kelley said. "Federal employees are like all Americans. They struggle to deal with the rising cost of health care, housing and gas prices; they live paycheck to paycheck and worry about their financial future and that of their children."

Obama administration officials also have expressed support for compensating federal employees retroactively in the event of a government shutdown.

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