Federal employees who were sent home during last weekend's three-day government shutdown will not be paid for the work they missed, Bush administration officials said last night.
But even before that ruling was announced, several Washington area members of Congress moved to overrule that decision and guarantee all federal workers their full paychecks.
Paul Clark, a spokesman for the Office of Personnel Management, said last night that administration officials believe the stopgap budget approved by Congress does not include retroactive pay for workers who were sent home, or furloughed, when the government technically ran out of money last weekend. Clark said the administration does not plan to pay any employee who missed a regular day of work on Saturday, Sunday or Monday because of the budget crisis.
It was unclear last night how many people might be affected by the decision or how much money the government might save by withholding the pay.
Clark said that "essential" employees who worked during the weekend and all those who had a regularly scheduled holiday on Columbus Day Monday would be paid for those days.
In past years when the government has been temporarily shutdown by budget stalemates, Congress has moved to restore full pay to employees who were involuntarily knocked out of work. Yesterday afternoon, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) led a group of Washington area lawmakers seeking to do the same this year.
Mikulski, whose constituents include 150,000 federal workers, said on the Senate floor that these employees "are human beings with bills to pay and families to feed. . . . They should not be used as pawns in a political power struggle."
Two other Washington-area senators, Paul S. Sarbanes (D-Md.) and John W. Warner (R-Va.), joined Mikulski in sponsoring the full-pay proposal. In the House, a spokesman for Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said he would introduce companion legislation, perhaps as early as today.