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senate Bill S. 24

Should Federal Employees Receive Back Pay ASAP Once Gov’t Shutdowns End?

Argument in favor

Federal employees should receive their back pay as soon as possible after federal shutdowns end — this will help them make ends meet and make shutdowns less stressful for these public servants.

Kimberly's Opinion
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01/11/2019
Government employees should not be penalized for the Trump shut down.
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Gerald's Opinion
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01/11/2019
As I understand it, many of them have been required to work during the shutdown. By law, an employee must be paid for time worked...the Federal Government should be no exception!
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burrkitty's Opinion
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01/11/2019
Real Americans are hurting. People may lose their houses, go hungry, or not get their meds. Hurry up and get the government open. Stop holding a million American families hostage over this stupidity.
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Argument opposed

The federal government has never failed to pay federal employees their back pay after previous shutdowns, and there’s no reason to think it’ll fail to do so this time. There’s no need for this legislation.

George's Opinion
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01/11/2019
Only those who worked should receive back pay. Why should anyone who did not work get back pay?
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Murphy1776's Opinion
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01/11/2019
Only the people who worked should get paid for their time. If you don’t work you shouldn’t get paid.
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Tim's Opinion
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01/11/2019
No. That’s what unemployment insurance is for. AND- no work , no pay. Pay them if they did work.
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bill Progress


  • EnactedJanuary 16th, 2019
    The President signed this bill into law
  • The house Passed January 11th, 2019
    Roll Call Vote 411 Yea / 7 Nay
  • The senate Passed January 10th, 2019
    Passed by Voice Vote
    IntroducedJanuary 3rd, 2019

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What is Senate Bill S. 24?

This bill — the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019 —, would require that federal employees and employees of D.C. public employers (including D.C. Courts, D.C. Government, and D.C. Public Defender Service, who are also affected by federal government shutdowns) who are furloughed or required to work during a lapse in appropriations beginning on or after December 22, 2018 be compensated for the period of the lapse. This compensation must be on the earliest possible date after the lapse ends, regardless of scheduled pay dates.

Employees required to work during a lapse in appropriations wouldmay also be able to use their leave.

Impact

Federal employees; federal budget; and government shutdowns.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 24

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to guarantee that furloughed federal employees will be paid retroactively as soon as possible after a lapse in appropriations ends:

“Federal workers are dedicated public servants who simply want to do their jobs on behalf of the American people. They shouldn’t continue to suffer – working dangerous jobs without knowing when their next paycheck may come, or being forcibly furloughed and unable to carry out their mission – because of extreme partisan gamesmanship. This and all government shutdowns have real consequences for hard-working federal employees across the country and the local economies they support as consumers. Congress should pass this bill and the president should sign it as a symbol of good faith and respect for the men and women who keep our country safe and moving forward.”

In a call with reporters, Sen. Cardin added that this bill lets federal workers know they “won’t be political pawns” in shutdown negotiations:

“We want to let federal workers know that they won’t be political pawns [in negotiations]. It should be that as soon as appropriations are passed, your pay would be guaranteed, and the pay would be restored to federal workers, both furloughed and those working without pay. This also would protect pre-approved leave time that was approved prior to the shutdown, but is now in jeopardy.”

President Trump has said that he’ll sign this bill if it passes Congress. In a statement on the Senate floor, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said:

“I had an opportunity to talk to President Trump a few moments ago and wanted to indicate to our colleagues that he will sign the bill that we’ve been discussing here to guarantee that government workers who’ve been displaced as a result of the shutdown will ultimately be compensated.”

The Federal Managers Association (FMA) supports this bill. In a letter to Sens. Cardin and Susan Collins (R-ME), FMA National President Renee Johnson wrote:

“We endorse [this] vital legislation, which would provide back pay and some certainty to federal employees furloughed during the government shutdown. As you clearly know, because of the lapse of funding, hundreds of thousands of employees are in the middle of a furlough of an undetermined length. As a result, these employees are unable to meet their congressionally-mandated missions, and many area already struggling to meet personal financial demands. Federal employees are dedicated to supporting their fellow Americans and their communities. Like their private sector counterparts, federal employees face growing fiduciary demands, such as increased health care costs, and often support their entire families on a single paycheck. FMA strongly supports [this] bipartisan legislation, which would ensure these hardworking employees are provided back pay after a unnecessary shutdown, completely beyond their control. [This bill] would grant much needed relief and peace of mind to all of these employees.”

Jacque Simon, public policy director at the American Federation of Government Employees, suggests that guaranteeing back pay could dissuade lawmakers from provoking future shutdowns:

“We fully support the bill and appreciate that it gives federal and [Washington], D.C., government employees peace of mind. It could be a disincentive for future shutdowns, because, as much as I hate to say it, for some people, depriving people of their paychecks seems to be part of the appeal. And it would be a benefit if Congress did not have to pass [back pay] bills again and again and again.”

This bill passed the Senate by voice vote without objection with the support of 40 bipartisan cosponsors, including 36 Democrats, two Republicans, and two Independents. It has the support of the Federal Managers Association (FMA) and the Federal-Postal Coalition (including the American Federation of Government Employees, National Treasury Employees Union, National Federation of Federal Employees, National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, Senior Executives Association, Federally Employed Women, Federal Managers Association, and more).

Companion legislation has been reintroduced in the House by Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) and 76 bipartisan cosponsors, including 68 Democrats and eight Republicans. It passed the House on Friday, January 4, 2019.

In the previous Congress, this bill passed the Senate but never advanced farther before the new Congress convened.


Of Note: There’s no official law requiring that federal workers receive their back pay after a shutdown. However, in every other recent government shutdown, all federal workers have received their back pay after the shutdown’s end.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) argues that this bill would remove some of the uncertainty that federal employees face during appropriations lapses:

“[Providing back pay after a shutdown] has been the practice, but there’s no guarantee in law. It’s unfair, unneeded uncertainty on top of the unfairness of not getting a paycheck at all. It’s important to put into law something permanent so that going into future shutdowns, federal employees at least have the assurance and certainty that they will be paid at the end of the day.”

Generally, it takes the government at least two to three days to process payroll, so if this bill passed, workers would likely receive their back pay after at least that much time elapsed after appropriations resumed.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / ronstik)

AKA

Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019

Official Title

A bill to provide for the compensation of Federal and other government employees affected by lapses in appropriations.

    Government employees should not be penalized for the Trump shut down.
    Like (325)
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    Only those who worked should receive back pay. Why should anyone who did not work get back pay?
    Like (102)
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    As I understand it, many of them have been required to work during the shutdown. By law, an employee must be paid for time worked...the Federal Government should be no exception!
    Like (177)
    Follow
    Share
    Real Americans are hurting. People may lose their houses, go hungry, or not get their meds. Hurry up and get the government open. Stop holding a million American families hostage over this stupidity.
    Like (92)
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    They should be paid TODAY. Fund The Government. Tell Trump that play time is over and it is time to get to work. We cannot wait around until he feels like bargaining in good faith.
    Like (60)
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    I am pretty sure that if I were one of the workers impacted by the Trump caused shut down an expedited paycheck would be gladly accepted. It's extremely unfair that federal workers receive no pay yet congress receives full pay during a shut down. Especially when congress could put these people back to work if they wanted to.
    Like (57)
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    Only the people who worked should get paid for their time. If you don’t work you shouldn’t get paid.
    Like (46)
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    This shutdown is obscene, and events like this must be avoided in the future.
    Like (37)
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    Please open our government now. My family depends on my income from each paycheck to make ends meet. We’re feeling the pain from the shutdown. This is urgent.
    Like (35)
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    More importantly, to prevent this sort of bullying tactic going forward. Suspend all pay, benefits and vacation of the Senate and Congress UNTIL this is resolved, or if budgets aren’t balanced. Also, remove the word should from the English language.
    Like (32)
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    No. That’s what unemployment insurance is for. AND- no work , no pay. Pay them if they did work.
    Like (30)
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    There is no reason to penalize government workers for something completely beyond their control. This is on Trump and Mitch McConnell!
    Like (24)
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    This shut down is ridiculous. Federal workers should not be screwed over because Trump is throwing a temper tantrum. Federal employees should absolutely receive back pay once the shutdown ends.
    Like (23)
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    It wasn't their fault they couldn't work. It was the President and the GOPs fault.
    Like (23)
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    Yes, even if they aren’t working. It’s not like they ASKED to be furloughed!
    Like (23)
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    First off there should have never been Trump shut down. However since the whining baby has done this yes this should be #1 priority. Many are suffering including all the American people who are at risk in many ways but, mostly our Federal employers. #OpenUpTheGovernment. #BoarderSecurityIsNotTheWall
    Like (22)
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    Only the employees who worked should get paid. The rest should get another job. Nonessential positions should be terminated, they are wasting taxpayers money.
    Like (22)
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    Yes at time and a half for pain and suffering.
    Like (19)
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    Of course! They are pawns in Trump’s ego-driven game.
    Like (15)
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    These Federal workers should never have had their pay withheld in the first place! Quit using Americans as helpless pawns because they will not be helpless in the voting polls against the GOP.
    Like (15)
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