The recent Senate vs. House legislative poker game (with federal workers' paychecks as chips) will cost the American taxpayer about a half million dollars.

For several hundred thousand taxpayers, who also happen to work for the government, the Capitol Hill game of chicken over abortion-funding language also caused a lot of unnecessary grief and some real financial problems.

Congress finally has adjourned after its annual squabble over language to determine when women may have abortions at government expense. The Senate and House used the money bills for Defense. Labor-HEW, the Department of Energy and the ACTION agency as hostages in their efforts to persuade the other side to accept its version of abortion-funding.

The Senate and House each tried to win its point by holding up aproval of bills to run various government agencies. Those bills contained money and authority of fund operations (and pay federal employes) for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.

Because of the legislature foot-stamping, the Defense Department had to make two separate payroll runs. Defense workers - nearly half a million of them - got two paychecks Friday. That was because Congress delayed until the last minute approval on the second half of the payroll. It [WORD ILLEGIBLE] a bundle in computer time. [WORD ILLEGIBLE] handling and check distribution, many military checks were late. [WORDS ILLEGIBLE]

[WORD ILLEGIBLE] Department workers got half [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] , as did employes of the [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] agency. Because of the pay [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] delay, HEW and Energy [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] two separate payrolls and [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] the number of checks for [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] today.

[WORD ILLEGIBLE] of Congress either do not [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] do not care, about the problems that can arise when other people do not get paid. Getting half pay, especially for people on a two-week pay cycle, is no fun.It caused some real problems for lower-paid government workers, with their landlords and grocers, and even with the kids' lunch money.

HEW hopes to be able to pay employes their full salary today. But the two-check payroll run, because Congress was weeks late in approving the budget, will cost the taxpayers an extra $70,000.

Energy hopes to be able to pay all employes full salaries today. Also in two checks. That will cost extra. The Defense Department's bill for the delay and the double payroll run is anybody's guess. But it will cost a lot. You will pay for it.

Congressional paychecks, as you might guess, were not on the poker table. Members got their salaries on time. That was never a problem.

Some people think the legislative brinkmandship would be resolved earlier if members of Congress put their own paychecks on the line while trying to win legislative debating points.

The abortion issue is, of course, important. Congress didn't solve it this time. Several federal workers have suggested that if Congress wants to have the abortion fight again next year it hold up its own budget when the flap develops. THat would give richer members the upper hand. But it would let everybody involved in the debate get a taste of what it is like to get half pay, no pay or late pay.

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