A bill to retroactively pay federal employees furloughed by the government shutdown has hit a snag in the Senate, where some Republicans may seek to amend the legislation with other proposals thus far ignored by the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), the second-ranking Senate Republican, told reporters Monday that it would be “premature” to pass the legislation without addressing other aspects of the shutdown.
“It think it’s really premature to be dealing with that until we deal with the underlying problem,” Cornyn told reporters, according to his office. “We’ve offered a number of bills to try to alleviate some of the hardship, and … they’ve been swatted down out of hand.”
The snag in the pay issue was first reported by Roll Call.
The Republican-controlled House has passed a series of standalone short-term spending measures to fund various parts of the government, including the National Park Service, the National Institutes of Health and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It plans to pass several more this week to fund the Food and Drug Administration, national intelligence agencies and the National Weather Service, among other agencies and operations.
But only one of the bills passed by the House – to continue paying active-duty U.S. military troops and civilian support staff – has been passed by the Senate.
The House unanimously approved the federal worker pay bill during a rare weekend session on Saturday morning.
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid supports the measure to retroactively pay federal workers, but said Saturday that if furloughed workers are guaranteed back pay, there’s no reason to keep them out of work.
“It’s really cruel to tell workers they’ll receive back pay once the government opens and then refuse to open the government,” Reid said on the Senate floor, suggesting that House Republicans have authorized a “paid vacation” for furloughed workers.
Senate Democratic aides said Monday that they anticipate holding a vote on the retroactive pay measure at some point in the near future. But Democrats are likely to insist on an up-or-down vote on the bill instead of approving it by unanimous consent – a move that would force GOP senators to vote yes or no on the bill.