Senate Republicans To Block Quick Passage Of House GOP Bill On Furloughed Worker Pay

Republicans in the Senate apparently intend to block quick passage of a bill that passed the Republican held House that would guarantee pay for Federal Government workers after the shutdown ends:

(CNN) – Quick passage of a bill to provide back-pay to furloughed federal workers appeared in doubt on Monday when the No. 2 Senate Republican said it’s not time to address that issue right now.

“I think it’s really premature to be dealing with that until we resolve the underlying problem,” said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas. “We’ve offered a number of bills to try to alleviate some of the hardship and they’ve been swatted down out of hand.”

Cornyn said he didn’t expect Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to bring it to the floor because of GOP objections.

The House unanimously passed a bill on Saturday to provide back pay to the hundreds of thousands of federal employees impacted by the government shutdown, and the White House said it supported it.

In past shutdowns, Congress routinely approved similar measures.

“There is no sense of urgency for us to do it. The federal government is shut down,” said Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican of North Carolina who supports providing back pay but not until the government has reopened. “I think it’s very legitimate to take our time on this and hopefully Senator Reid will open it up for amendments and we can see how it ends up.”

What Republicans are opposing isn’t the bill itself. Indeed, if there were a floor vote on the back pay bill itself it likely would pass the Senate unanimously just as it passed the House unanimously. Instead, what they’re objecting to is passing the bill under an expedited procedure that wouldnt’ allow for Amendments because they want to use the regular process to force votes on many of the stop gap spending bills for things such as the National Institutes of Health and the D.C. Government which the House passed on party line votes last week, and which Harry Reid has so far refused to bring to the floor. Many of the Amendments would likely fail assuming that party unity continues, but Republicans apparently believe that forcing votes on this issues will embarrass Democrats, especially those up for re-election in red states like Arkansas, Louisiana, and North Carolina.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, Quick Takes, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. DC Loser says:

    Good luck with that. The only thing people will remember is the headline you have up there. Republicans hate government employees.

  2. Todd says:

    I haven’t gone and looked at any of my favorite Conservative websites yet, but I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that they spin this as “Democrat controlled Senate blocks worker back pay bill”

  3. Mark Ivey says:

    Tho GOP has lost the Govt employee vote..

  4. Todd says:

    @Mark Ivey:

    Tho GOP has lost the Govt employee vote..

    I wouldn’t bet on that as an absolute Mark. Especially on the DoD side, there are an awful lot of staunch Conservatives among government employees … and (not surprisingly) they’re mad at the President, not the Republicans, about the furlough.

  5. Todd says:

    @Mark Ivey:
    I personally know ‘several’ people who collect military retirement checks, work civil service jobs, have their healthcare paid for by the government, and even contact their union rep when they have an issue at work.

    Yet …

    Should you get into a political discussion with them, you’ll quickly discover that they hate ‘big’ government, despise “socialized medicine”, and think unions should be illegal.

    … but (apparently) only for other people.

  6. DC Loser says:

    It never ceases to amaze me at the number of cars I see with hateful anti-Obama bumper stickers at the government facilties I visit. I think those people don’t think they are the Big Government people their talk show hosts are talking about. It’s always the other lazy fed that’s the problem.

  7. al-Ameda says:

    Congressional Republicans just left a paper bag containing dog feces on the front porch of federal government workers, rang the door bell, and ran off.

    Seriously, the GOP needs an intervention.
    What is wrong with them?

  8. al-Ameda says:

    @Mark Ivey:

    Tho GOP has lost the Govt employee vote..

    @Todd:

    I wouldn’t bet on that as an absolute Mark. Especially on the DoD side, there are an awful lot of staunch Conservatives among government employees … and (not surprisingly) they’re mad at the President, not the Republicans, about the furlough

    You’re dead on Todd, I have retired DOD relatives and they are completely in synch with the Tea Party. in my own family, I have members who are both working and retired municipal employees and they are staunch Republicans and are all-in with the Tea Party.

  9. Lin Baker says:

    @Todd: Im a federal employee and Im mad at the Republicans , not the President, about the furlough. Its all on the Republicans not submitting a clean bill. They are playing politics at our expense. Obama-care is a totally separate political issue which should be dealt with accordingly not used as leverage to get what you want. I have little doubt that most fed employees see it the same way. The republican party is an embarrassment.

  10. Todd says:

    @Lin Baker:

    I’ve been around the government (military actually) my entire life. I wasn’t in any way trying to imply that all (or even most) government workers behave as I described as some. Just that ideology can sometimes tend to inform people’s views more than circumstance.

    In other words, if someone was already rabidly anti-Obama, then it’s perfectly logical thats who they are going to blame when they get furloughed.

  11. David M says:

    Regardless of what procedural games the GOP Senators want to play, it would seem like this bill might not be the best choice.

  12. Ernieyeball says:

    @al-Ameda: Congressional Republicans just left a paper bag containing dog feces on the front porch of federal government workers, rang the door bell, and ran off…

    That trick is always a lot funnier when you set the bag on fire so when the old sorehead Florack starts stomping on the bag to put out the flames…

  13. Andrei Vfeked says:

    While I feel that this bill was a bad idea, I am also surprised that Cornyn had the cajones to hold it up. Frankly, I suspect many Democrats on the Hill are relieved and for more than one reason. Obviously, this is a little bit more mud on the face of the GOP (although truthfully not much). However, and more importantly, this keeps the shutdown pain threshold higher, which is more to the interests of Democrats than Republicans.

    Personally, I oppose the Bill and its timing for two reasons:

    1. Passing it now runs counter to part of the whole point of the shutdown philosophically. It would also be throwing millions of taxpayer dollars away, paying for services not rendered.

    2. It is intrinsically unfair. I have tremendous sympathy for furloughed Federal workers and I know they have no culpability here whatsoever. They are clearly victims here. That being said, they are not working. They are sitting at home not doing any work at all (as they have been ordered). However, there are a few hundred thousand Federal employees who are working (as they have likewise been ordered to do) and who do not, at this time, even know for certain they will be paid for their work.

    How is it fair for people who have not been working to get paid their full salary while those that have been working will also only get paid their full salary?

    A better, and more equitable, solution would be to allow furloughed Feds to trade in accrued leave for pay upon their return, perhaps even at a favorable rate (e.g., four hours of leave for eight hours of pay), and allow those without enough accrued leave to go into a negative leave balance to make up for lost pay. The employees would be given a choice as to whether they wanted to do this or not.