Last week, media outlets such as CNN, CBS News and MSNBC continued to report how furloughed federal government workers would be hurt by the government shutdown. Essentially, the reports consisted of telling the reader that these people are suffering and might even file for bankruptcy because they are losing a paycheck.
It now appears that these furloughed workers were just on a paid vacation – and still continuing. The House of Representatives voted 407 to zero in favor of the Retroactive Pay Fairness Act, a bill giving approximately 800,000 federal workers back pay for missing roughly one week’s worth of pay. The vote took place on a rare Saturday congressional session – it is unknown as to when the Senate will vote on the measure, which it is expected to pass.
The retroactive pay will be guaranteed but workers won’t be receiving any paychecks until the government shutdown is resolved by the Democrats and Republicans.
For the past week, it has been suggested by Washington that these furloughed workers would be paid, despite the protests, rallies and news stories claiming they would miss a paycheck, a dangerous situation for those government workers living paycheck-to-paycheck, many of them earning as much as $70,000 per year.
On Friday, the White House issued a statement supporting retroactive pay:
“Federal workers keep the nation safe and secure and provide vital services that support the economic security of American families,” the White House Office of Management and Budget said in a statement. “The administration appreciates that the Congress is acting promptly to move this bipartisan legislation and looks forward to the bill’s swift passage. This bill alone, however, will not address the serious consequences of the funding lapse, nor will a piecemeal approach to appropriations bills.”
This isn’t new, though. During the United States government shutdowns in 1995 and 1996, the Republican-controlled congress passed similar legislation for those furloughed workers, who were given back pay.