Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), an original co-sponsor of a bill to retroactively pay furloughed federal employees (H.R. 3223) that will be on the House floor today, said that the legislation is necessary to relieve beleaguered federal employees of losing even more pay following this year's sequester furloughs. Some federal employees deemed non-essential have been anxious that they may not receive back pay, because of ongoing Republican complaints about their pay and pensions. "Our bill simply adheres to past precedent that has always avoided punitive pay reductions for federal employees because of shutdowns caused by Congress," said Norton. "I hope that there will be strong bipartisan support for this bill, not only to assure our federal employees of no loss of shutdown pay, but perhaps to bolster their diminished morale."
However, Norton noted that the administration said it "strongly supports House passage of H.R. 3223" and did not issue a veto threat because the bill is different from the Republican's piecemeal approach to federal appropriations. "I am deeply chagrined that the administration was fully able to make the distinction between piecemeal federal appropriations and the federal worker back pay bill, but issued a veto threat on the bill to allow D.C. to spend its locally raised funds," said Norton. "The city's locally raised funds also have nothing in common with federal appropriations. If the administration and our Democratic friends in the Senate do not show the same sensitivity to D.C. residents as they have to federal employees, the city will soon run out of its fast diminishing contingency funds."
Senate Democrats and the administration have thus far refused to acknowledge the distinction between the bill to allow D.C. to operate by spending its locally raised budget funds, passed by the House earlier this week, and the federal appropriations that Republicans are using in their piecemeal approach to funding the federal government.