The Trump White House will support back pay for furloughed government employees once the ongoing shutdown finally reaches a negotiated end, a senior White House official told The Daily Beast on Wednesday.
It is tradition for the White House to support such a measure in the wake of a government shutdown. During similar incidents in the past, furloughed workers were compensated for the salary that they lost after Congress and the White House failed to reach agreement on funding the government. And before the current shutdown began, the Senate passed a measure ensuring that back pay be processed. The House will still need to pass such a measure and the president will have to sign it.
Trump did sign off on federal workers getting back pay when the government last shut down during his administration.
But in the latest standoff, which has been driven primarily by Donald Trump’s insistence on a border wall and Democratic lawmakers’ refusal to fund it to his liking, the president has labelled these workers as part of his opposition. Though Trump insisted that “many of those workers have said to me, communicated, ‘Stay out until you get the funding for the wall,’” he also claimed, citing no evidence, that most of the affected workers “are Democrats.” The administration also suggested that furloughed workers barter for rent and Trump recently signed an executive order freezing salaries for federal workers.
With the shutdown in its second week, a large union of federal workers announced it was suing over the requirement that employees deemed "essential" must work without pay during the partial government shutdown. According to at least one recent poll, more than a quarter of federal employees are “not very confident that furloughed workers will receive back pay once” the government reopens.
There is no law requiring that furloughed workers get back pay but Congress and presidents have supported such measures in the past.