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Federal back pay bill awaits Senate action

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A bill to retroactively pay furloughed federal workers is awaiting action in the Senate after it unanimously passed the House Oct. 5.

The Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act (H.R. 3223) applies to employees furloughed as a result of the government shutdown, so it wouldn't affect those who may be furloughed due to sequestration. Federal workers would receive their back pay after the shutdown ends. The bill does not cover contractors.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) introduced the same bill (S. 1567) in the Senate on Oct. 1 with 14 of his Democratic colleagues as cosponsors, but it has yet to advance. According to articles from Politico and CNN, Senate leaders do not have imminent plans to take action on the legislation.

The entirety of the bill reads, "Federal employees furloughed as a result of any lapse in appropriations which begins on or about October 1, 2013, shall be compensated at their standard rate of compensation, for the period of such lapse in appropriations, as soon as practicable after such lapse in appropriations ends."

Some members of Congress, meanwhile, have said they will refuse or donate their own salaries until the shutdown ends. On Oct. 8, the Washington Post counted 232 who decided not to accept pay.

Lawmakers have also introduced bills to withhold pay during shutdowns. Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) offered the Government Shutdown Fairness Act (H.R. 3160), which would hold congressional pay in escrow accounts during the current shutdown.

Members of Congress would receive the money in the accounts at the end of the session of Congress in order to avoid a conflict with the 27th Amendment, which requires that changes in congressional pay wait until a new House is elected to take effect.

The bill would automatically stop paying members of Congress during shutdowns that occur after the current session of Congress.

Another bill, the No Government No Pay Act (H.R. 3224) from Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.), would also automatically withhold congressional pay during shutdowns beginning in the next session of Congress.

For more:
- go to the THOMAS page for H.R. 3223
- go to the THOMAS page for S. 1567
- go to the THOMAS page for H.R. 3160
- go to the THOMAS page for H.R. 3224

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