The nearly 1 million federal employees who would be forced to stay home from their jobs if the federal government shuts down Friday should not count on getting paid for that time off.
Furloughed workers were paid retroactively during the shutdowns in the 1990s, but one member of Congress said that’s not likely this year.
“Federal employees need to understand that this is not 1995 — when we closed down, and then people didn’t go to work, and then they were fully reimbursed,” Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), who serves on the House Appropriations Committee, said Wednesday.
Based on conversations with his Republican colleagues, Moran said, “it is highly unlikely [federal workers] will ever be reimbursed. So, if this goes on for two-three weeks … it’s going to have a very severe impact upon federal employees’ ability to make their mortgage payments, car payments, etc., etc. This is very, very serious.”
Congressional Democrats would want to reimburse federal workers who did not work, Moran said, but the majority House Republicans “are far more anti-government in terms of their mindset than even they were in … what was called the Gingrich Revolution in ’95 that shut down the government.” Moran was referring to then-House speaker Newt Gingrich (R).
But Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.), a Tea Party caucus member and chairman of the House federal workforce subcommittee, might surprise Moran.
“I, for one, would not be in favor of furthering that harm [of the shutdown] by denying hard-working people back pay,” Ross said.
Moran estimated that about 900,000 employees would not be considered essential and therefore would be furloughed. A senior administration official said he expects the number to be closer to 800,000.
The Office of Personnel Management said Congress would determine reimbursement for employees who do not work during a shutdown. Those who are considered essential, or excepted from the furlough, “will be paid when Congress passes and the president signs a new” funding measure, according to OPM.
Moran is scheduled to host an “Emergency Town Hall” for federal employees living in his district from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Francis C. Hammond Middle School in Alexandria.