House plans to pass funding bill that includes pay raise for feds

Editorial credit: Albert H. Teich / Washington, DC - February 27, 2017: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer speak to a joint press conference at the National Press Club 

Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer at the National Press Club in February 2017. (Photo credit: Albert H. Teich/

House Democrats plan to open the new session of Congress by passing legislation to fund the federal government and end the partial shutdown.

The package includes full-year appropriations bill for most of the agencies shuttered during the lapse in funding that took effect Dec. 22. But under the Democrats' plan, the Department of Homeland Security will be funded under a separate continuing resolution through Feb. 8, to give time for more negotiation over border security funding.

The House package includes a 1.9 percent pay raise for federal employees, overriding a recent decision by President Donald Trump. The Senate has already agreed to the pay raise in its appropriations bills.

"It would be the height of irresponsibility and political cynicism for Senate Republicans to now reject the same legislation they have already supported," said Democratic leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in a joint statement.

However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has indicated he doesn't plan to act on any legislation without an advance commitment of support from the White House.

Trump has invited congressional leaders to the White House on Jan. 2 – the last day of Republican control of the House – to talk about border security. It's not clear whether there will be a possible deal discussed.

Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) met with Trump on Sunday and said he saw the possibility of some deal that includes ramped-up funding for physical border barriers as well as support for some of Democrats' longstanding priorities. However, Graham's optimism about a wider deal on immigration does not appear to be widely shared, and many lawmakers are bracing for a long shutdown.

The partial government shutdown will be in its 13th day when the new Congress opens. The longest single shutdown occurred during the Clinton administration, lasting 21 days. Under the Obama administration, a shutdown dragged on for 17 days.

About 800,000 federal employees are caught up in the current shutdown, along with hundreds of thousands of contractors. Most feds were last paid on Dec. 28 for work completed before the shutdown. About 380,000 feds are furloughed with 420,000 working without pay. The latter group is guaranteed back pay once the shutdown ends. However, an act of Congress is required to pay those feds on furlough. The Senate already passed such a measure before breaking for the holidays and it is likely that House Democrats will follow suit.

Feds are at risk of missing a full paycheck if the shutdown drags on much longer, however. The next pay date for most feds is Jan. 11.

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 and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

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


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