Bipartisan Bill Protects Federal Workers’ Pay from Shutdown

Oct 1, 2013
Press Release

Washington, DC – 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-VA), 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.” 


“Federal employees should not be punished because House Republicans insist on shutting down the government. These hardworking employees and their families have already endured a three-year pay freeze, faced furloughs as a result of sequestration, and had
their benefits slashed in the name of deficit reduction,” said Rep. Cummings.  “They should not be penalized again now while House Republican extremists pursue their ideological obsession with overturning the law of the land and putting insurance companies back in charge of healthcare for millions of Americans.”


“It is not fair for federal employees – who have already had their salaries frozen for three years – to have to pay the price for Congress’ inability to get its work done.  Furloughs resulting from sequestration have forced many federal employees to forgo part of their salaries in the remaining weeks of this fiscal year. Our nation’s hardworking public servants are willing to do their part, but it is simply unfair to not repay them for pay lost during a shutdown that was not their fault,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen.

“With so many hardworking federal employees in Virginia, I know and appreciate the commitment and dedication they bring to their workplace each and every day, in service to our great nation,” Rep. Wittman said. “I am pleased to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation to ensure our federal employees receive the full salary they have earned.”

"Every single day, we depend on our federal employees to keep America up and running," said Rep. Sarbanes. "But as a result of this irresponsible government shutdown brinksmanship, hundreds of thousands of hard-working men and woman are facing immediate and indefinite furloughs. Federal employees and their families shouldn’t be casualties of Congressional Republicans’ reckless strategy of ideological hostage taking."


“Republicans are once again threatening to shut down the federal government unless their ideological demands are met,” said Rep. Edwards.  “Yet, it is the American people, including millions of federal workers, and the U.S. economy who will pay the price.  After three years of a pay freeze, and sequestration that forced many to take unpaid furloughs, this legislation is critical to ensure our federal workers receive the back-pay they deserve if Republicans force a government shutdown.  The time is long over-due to provide certainty to our dedicated public servants, who we rely on for public safety, research, and national security. Let’s not let partisan Republican politics trump America’s federal workforce.”


“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.”


“Hard-working civil servants shouldn’t be collateral damage in an ideological battle. America’s federal workers guard our airports and borders, serve and assist our veterans, perform cutting-edge research, and make sure the food we eat is safe and the air we
breathe is clean. I’m proud to join my bipartisan colleagues on this important measure to make sure that America’s federal employees and their families are not punished because of political dysfunction,” said Rep. Delaney.


The Obama Administration estimates roughly 800,000 federal workers will be furloughed if the government shuts down. While the Washington Metropolitan Region is home to the highest concentration of federal workers in the country, 85 percent of federal workers live outside the region.

113th Congress