Government Shutdown

Congress moves on back pay

worried man finances

The House of Representatives voted 407-0 on Saturday to pass a bill to provide back pay to furloughed federal workers once the partial government shutdown is over.

The Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act originated with members on both sides of the aisle whose districts are home to substantial numbers of federal employees. Virginia Democrats Jim Moran and Gerry Connolly and Republicans Frank Wolf, Scott Rigell and Rob Wittman are among the backers, as are Maryland Democrats Steny Hoyer, Chris Van Hollen, Elijah Cummings, Donna Edwards, John Sarbanes, Dutch Ruppersberger and John Delaney.

"I'm actually pleasantly surprised that this moved so rapidly," said Connolly, in an interview with FCW.

The White House indicated that it would back the measure.

"This does not solve the funding problem, but it does provide these federal employees with some peace of mind that they will get paid," Moran said at an Oct. 3 meeting of the House Rules Committee. "These folks didn't bring this about."

But there was no word from the Democratic-led Senate on whether that chamber would consider the measure.

House Republicans are also looking to pass a series of stopgap appropriations for select government programs, including a bill that would allow the Director of National Intelligence broad latitude in calling back furloughed personnel and paying contractors. Other bills support weather monitoring, border protection, nuclear weapons security, school funding, national parks, some federal health programs and Head Start preschool programs. The White House has said it does not support such a "piecemeal" approach.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Mon, Oct 7, 2013

It seems to me that everyone has their own opinion about what is right or wrong, in regard to the budget battle occurring in Washington. Of course, the media and a few social networks are also the blame for this mass hysteria. But one thing that is clear in my mind, which is, it takes two to tangle. No one side, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans, is more to blame for this folly. They both are equally to blame and therefore did the right thing by retroactively paying federal employees for their political blunder. A vacation you say—I think not!

Mon, Oct 7, 2013 RayW

Be interesting to see if the Senate agrees on back pay (since Obama apparently said yes I think they will).

Most people on the blog/comment boards seem to think that it is illegal to do what the House is doing with the various funding bills, that the "bill" proposed by the senate is "clean" and can not be changed. As I see it (and I admit that the media is biased and this is a composite of what I read), it boils down to AHA (Obamacare) funding or no one gets funded by the Democrats and let's break out each funding bill and ignore AHA for now by the Republicans.

Mon, Oct 7, 2013

Free vacation for furloughed employees while the essential personnel work twice as hard with no compensation. Doesn't seem fair.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group