On January 10, the United States Senate unanimously passed S.24, or the “Government Employee Fair Treatment Act,” which would provide back pay for hundreds of thousands of federal employees after the end of the partial government shutdown.
The text of the bill reads in part:
(2) Each employee of the United States Government or of a District of Columbia public employer furloughed as a result of a covered lapse in appropriations shall be paid for the period of the lapse in appropriations, and each excepted employee who is required to perform work during a covered lapse in appropriations shall be paid for such work, at the employee’s standard rate of pay, at the earliest date possible after the lapse in appropriations ends, regardless of scheduled pay dates.
(3) During a covered lapse in appropriations, each excepted employee who is required to perform work shall be entitled to use leave under chapter 63 of title 5, or any other applicable law governing the use of leave by the excepted employee, for which compensation shall be paid at the earliest date possible after the lapse in appropriations ends, regardless of scheduled pay dates.
On January 11, the bill was passed by the House of Representatives with extraordinary bipartisan support (411 – 7), and passed on to the president for his signature.
President Trump signed the “Government Employee Fair Treatment Act” into law on Wednesday.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who co-authored the legislation with Senator Ben Cardin (D-ME), walked a tightrope in a press release, appearing to condemn the president and/or party leadership for the ongoing partial government shutdown:
The partial government shutdown represents a failure to govern and harms not only those who need to interact with the closed agencies, but also hundreds of thousands of federal employees and their families who don’t know when they will receive their next paycheck. I am pleased that an overwhelming, bipartisan majority of our colleagues joined us in passing this legislation to guarantee back pay to federal workers affected by the shutdown. While this will help provide some peace of mind, a compromise must be reached to bring this impasse to an end as quickly as possible.
The partial government shutdown, which began on December 22, is the result of a financial impasse. While President Trump has repeatedly demanded approximately $5 billion for construction of a southern border wall, Democratic leadership has refused, offering no more than $1.6 billion for broader border security.
Shortly after the shutdown began, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director and acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told Jon Karl of ABC’s “This Week” that a compromise offer had been made. Although he wouldn’t provide further details, an anonymous Democratic aide told the Associated Press that the offer stood at $2.5 billion.
According to a Pew Research poll released on Wednesday, 36% of Americans approve of the way in which President Trump is “handling shutdown negotiations,” while 61% disapprove. 43% of Americans approve of the way in which Democratic leadership is “handling shutdown negotiations,” while 53% disapprove.
When Quinnipiac asked Americans who they believe “is responsible for this shut down,” 56% blamed President Trump and the Republicans, while 36% blamed the Democrats.
This most recent government shutdown now holds the record as the longest in U.S. history.