House Expected to Approve Back Pay for Federal Contractors from January Shutdown

The House of Representatives is expected to approve back pay this month for hundreds of thousands of federal contractors who went unpaid during the 35-day government shutdown during December and January, according to Democratic lawmakers.

On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee announced that an upcoming government spending package will include back pay for an estimated 580,000 federal contractors, whose ranks include some of the lowest-paid workers, such as janitors, security guards and cooks.

The legislation is likely to clear the House in June — possibly in two weeks’ time — as part of a broader package that includes funding for the Agriculture, Commerce, Justice and Interior departments, according to a House Democratic aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

House and Senate negotiators will then have to resolve differences in their spending proposals, and the plan’s fate at that juncture remains unclear. On Wednesday, a Senate Republican on the Appropriations Committee expressed doubt about the effort.

During the shutdown, President Trump and Congress approved a measure ensuring back pay for federal employees — a measure that left out the federal contractors. Union leaders say these contractors generally earn between $460 and $650 weekly, making them among the lowest-paid government workers. Many of these employees worked through the government shutdown despite the lack of pay.

“The federal government relies on these hard-working men and women — our security professionals, our food service workers, our custodial workers — to keep our government buildings running,” Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), who helped lead the push for the back pay along with Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), said in a statement. “By including back pay in the upcoming spending package, we are one step closer to finally giving our federal contractor employees what they are owed.”

Find the rest of the Washington Post story by Jeff Stein here.