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Bill Would Provide Retroactive Pay to Furloughed Employees

The U.S. Capitol building, as seen through a telescope from the rooftop of a Ballston apartment building (courtesy Andrew Clegg)With some 800,000 federal workers being furloughed as a result of the government shutdown, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) and other local members of Congress are calling for retroactive pay for civil servants.

Moran and nearly a dozen cosponsors have introduced the “Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act,” which would provide retroactive pay for furloughed employees after Congress gets its act together and passes a government funding bill. Following the last government shutdown, in 1995 and 1996, the Republican-controlled Congress passed similar legislation.

While 85 percent of federal workers live outside the D.C. region, an extended shutdown could have wide-ranging impacts locally, from financial difficulties for families to possible pain for the regional economy.

Moran and his cosponsors released the following press release about the Retroactive Pay Fairness Act early this morning.

Congressman Jim Moran, Northern Virginia Democrat, introduced the “Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act” to ensure all federal employees receive retroactive pay for the duration of a federal government shutdown, regardless of individual furlough status. Congressman Frank Wolf will be the lead Republican cosponsor. They are joined by Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Chris Van Hollen (D-[MD]), Rob Wittman (R-VA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Donna Edwards (D-MD), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Scott Rigell (R-VA), and John Delaney (D-MD).

“Nearly a million federal workers could lose their pay because Congress failed to do its job and keep the government up and running,” said Rep. Moran. “Leaving the question of retroactive pay for furloughed employees, already shouldering much of the burden of sequestration, up to this highly divisive Congress is deeply concerning. Today’s bipartisan proposal shields family pocketbooks from partisan politics and reaffirms our commitment to our federal employees.”

Federal employee pay is suspended in the event of a funding lapse or government shutdown. Retroactive payment for “non-essential” and “essential” employees must be approved through the legislative process by Congress.

“Employees at the FBI, DEA and U.S. Marshals Service shouldn’t be punished because the Congress couldn’t get its job done,” Rep. Wolf said. “They should be properly compensated for the hard work they do to make our nation a safer and better place. Let’s also not forget that several federal workers paid the ultimate price just last week in the Navy Yard tragedy.”

“It is unacceptable that Congress’s failure to reach a responsible agreement to fund the government will force federal workers to stay home without pay rather than serve the American people ,” said Rep. Hoyer. “Our hardworking federal workforce – middle-class Americans who support our war fighters, defend our borders, keep our air clean and food safe, care for our veterans, and fulfill many other critical services – should not have to face furloughs. Like so many other Americans, they have mortgages to meet, college tuitions to pay, and families to support. That’s why I have joined my colleagues in sponsoring this bipartisan proposal to meet our basic moral obligation to our public servants and ensure all federal employees receive retroactive pay.”

“After months of furloughs and multiple pay freezes, the worst thing we could do to federal employees is to impose a needless government shutdown furlough on them,” said Rep. Holmes Norton. “In the past, Congress has not permanently placed its own failure to keep the government running on innocent federal employees. We should follow past precedent and retroactively pay our beleaguered federal employees who face furlough if the federal government shuts down on October 1.”

[ … ]

“In the mid-1990’s, the Republican-led Congress provided furloughed Federal employees with retroactive pay in recognition that our civil servants do not deserve to be victims of congressional dysfunction,” said Rep. Connolly. “Our bipartisan bill will ensure that this Congress, just like the Republican-led Congresses before, honors its commitment to the dedicated men and women of our civil service who serve our constituents.”

Photo courtesy Andrew Clegg

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