Congress passes Collins’ bipartisan bill to retroactively pay furloughed federal employees

Bipartisan legislation for which U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) was the lead original cosponsor last week received approval from both chambers of Congress to ensure hundreds of thousands of federal workers affected by the recent government shutdown receive backdated pay.

“Civil servants bring dedication, competence and experience to their work, and I appreciate all that they do for our government and our nation,” Sen. Collins said. “Our legislation would guarantee that they are paid retroactively as soon as appropriations are restored.”

The Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019, S. 24, authored by Sen. Collins and U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), on Jan. 10 passed the U.S. Senate by voice vote and then on Jan. 11 received U.S. House of Representatives approval, 411-7. Twenty-eight Democratic Senate members joined Sens. Collins and Cardin in reintroducing the bill this congressional term.

On the Senate floor earlier Friday, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that President Donald Trump assured him that the bill would be signed into law once it reaches the president’s desk.

“I am also continuing to discuss with the White House and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle ways to bring an end to the shutdown as quickly as possible so that furloughed federal employees can return to work,” added Sen. Collins.

Specifically, according to the text of S. 24, 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.

That also holds true for each “excepted employee who is required to perform work during a covered lapse in appropriations,” according to the bill, which noted that employees will receive their standard rate of pay, “at the earliest date possible after the lapse in appropriations ends, regardless of scheduled pay dates.”

“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,” said Sen. Collins.