Even as the White House and Congressional Democrats were locked in continuing standoff about funding for border security, the House on Friday overwhelmingly voted to send a bill to President Donald Trump which would insure that federal workers are paid all of the money they would normally receive in salary – whenever a partial government shutdown finally ends.
On the twenty-first day of this shutdown dispute over money for the President’s border wall, the House voted 411-7 in favor of the retroactive pay bill, which had been approved a day earlier by the Senate on a voice vote.
The action also came as hundreds of thousands of federal workers felt the sting of missing a paycheck which would normally arrive on this Friday.
“This is a critical step towards undoing some of the damage caused by the government shutdown,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), whose district is home to thousands of federal workers just outside of Washington, D.C.
But as Beyer and others noted – none of the 800,000 workers impacted by the partial shutdown can get paid until the Congress and the President agree on a funding measure.
Seven Republicans in the House voted against the retroactive pay: Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, Rep. Andy Biggs and Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, Rep. Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin, Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, and Rep. Ted Yoho of Florida.
In a response on Twitter, Rep. Amash (R-MI) said he objected because the plan codifies the approval of back pay for federal workers idled under a shutdown, which is what has happened under previous federal government shutdown scenarios.
You can read the text of the bill here.
The legislation now goes to the President for his signature.
Earlier on Friday, the House had approved a fourth spending bill this week to re-open certain federal agencies and departments, which had been shuttered by the spending dispute – the latest bill would fund the National Park Service and the EPA.
“Why do you have to shut down government?” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as she chided the President in a House floor speech.
10 Republicans broke ranks on the National Park Service/EPA funding bill, again demonstrating that most Republicans are not abandoning the President in his quest to squeeze money out of Democrats for his border wall.
The President made that case on Twitter earlier in the day.
As lawmakers went home for the weekend, it was obvious that no deal was near.
“While the President throws a tantrum, people are suffering,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL).
“We’ve wasted an entire week,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), as he ridiculed Democrats for forcing votes on spending bills which Senate Republicans have refused to vote on.
There was also no GOP unity on whether the President should emergency powers to move budget money from other accounts in the military, or under the Army Corps of Engineers, in order to fund the border wall project, as the idea of floated Thursday of taking the money from hurricane and wildfire disaster relief seemed to fall flat with Republicans on Capitol Hill.
On Saturday, this shutdown will set a record for the longest ever, surpassing one that took place over 21 days in December of 1995 and January of 1996.