House, Senate pass spending bill; Trump administration vows shutdown back pay soon
WASHINGTON D.C. — The Trump administration is promising to pay federal workers as soon as possible after the partial government shutdown ends. But a senior official says agencies are in charge of their own payroll issues and workers should check with their departments for details about when their paychecks will arrive.
Congress passed legislation Friday requiring reimbursement for those employees who were furloughed and forced to work without pay.
About 800,000 federal workers have gone two pay periods without a paycheck. Some had to take temporary jobs, sell their cars and take out thousands of dollars in loans.
“It’s about time, couldn’t be happier,” said Sheri Lohman, a federal worker in Colorado. “It makes everything much easier, I don’t have to continue working a part time job.”
Meanwhile, several Transportation Security Administration employees said it would still be hard for them to overcome the impacts of the shutdown.
“People’s lives have been damaged over nothing. People have lost careers. There’s people whose credit is messed up,” said Jamie Keys, a 14-year TSA employee at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
“All kinds of damage has been done. People can’t afford medicine. Yeah, we’re happy it’s over, but at what cost? We’re still let down either way,” she said.
J. David Cox Sr., national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, urged Congress to pass full-year appropriations and “act to prevent the use of shutdowns from ever occurring again.”
“While reopening the government is long overdue, I will not celebrate a temporary reprieve to a politically motivated crisis that has left many federal employees in anguish over how to pay their bills, feed their families, and keep a roof over their heads,” he said in a statement.
The House has unanimously passed a measure to reopen shuttered government agencies for three weeks, sending the bill to President Donald Trump for his signature.
The Senate passed the measure by voice vote Friday hours after Trump agreed to a deal to reopen the government through Feb. 15 while lawmakers negotiate on border security and the wall.
Trump is expected to sign the measure Friday, ending a five-week partial government shutdown sparked by his demands for billions of dollars to build a border wall with Mexico.