Bill to Pay Back Furloughed Workers Advances

October 6, 2013, 11:12 AM HST · Updated October 6, 1:12 PM
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File photo by Wendy Osher.

File photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

A bill that would pay back furloughed federal workers affected by the government shutdown advanced to the Senate after passing the House unanimously with a vote of 407-0, said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaiʻi, who co-sponsored the bill.

HR 3223, also known as the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act, was introduced on Monday by Democratic Representative James “Jim” Moran Jr. of Virginia.

The item seeks to ensure that federal employees that were furloughed as a result of the federal government shutdown, get paid, regardless of furlough status.

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“The House today voted to do the right thing and pay our furloughed federal workers,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard in a press release statement on Saturday.

Gabbard continued saying:

“These public servants have been unfairly caught in the midst of these partisan arguments. They and their families do not deserve to lose their paychecks because Congress is at an impasse. In Hawaiʻi, more than 17% of our workers are federal employees. That means more than 25,000 hard-working people have been furloughed during this government shutdown. Because the House passed the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act today, these workers and their families can look forward to some relief in the midst of this harmful shutdown.”

According to Gabbard, the Obama Administration yesterday announced its support for the bill.  The legislation now goes to the Senate for a vote.

Also this weekend, the Department of Defense announced that a majority of the 2,600 civilian employees furloughed at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility should expect to return to work as early as next week, “even if the government remains shutdown.”

The announcement was made by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who reportedly said, “employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members,” will be recalled.

US Senator Brian Schatz also issued a statement saying, “I am grateful that the men and women of the Pearl Harbor Shipyard will be able to return to work and allowed to continue supporting our national defense.  These are the people that make sure our great nation’s Navy stands ready to engage on the front lines. The Defense Department’s decision to allow the entire workforce to return to the Pearl Harbor Shipyard will help ensure that our Navy has the resources it needs to stand ready to respond to any contingency in the Asia Pacific.”

Schatz said that employees at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard impacted by the government shutdown can expect to hear from their supervisors in the coming days about the process for returning to work.

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