Stock photo ID: 690212074 By Michael Candelori

Trump signs back pay bill despite judge's ruling

The shutdown, at least of funding, for a quarter of the federal government—including key departments including as the Department of Homeland Security and the IRS—continues to drag on—bumping along to the one-month mark, but back pay has been promised.

Meetings between lawmakers and the White House recently appear to have been few and fruitless—not boding well for a resolution in the near-term, by almost all accounts. In public pronouncements, the White House insists on funding for what they see as a needed wall in exchange for a presidential signature on funding bills and a return to normalcy. Meanwhile, top congressional leaders continue to deny money for a project many opponents see as socially damaging, wasteful and doomed to fail.

And amid rallying and resentment among hundreds of thousands of increasingly cash-strapped federal workers and contractors, a key federal judge ruled against feds—by ruling against actions brought by unions representing employees forced to work without pay—citing variously the 13th Amendment banning slavery and the 5th Amendment guaranteeing due process and others. Those employees demanded to be paid for their work.

Federal District Court Judge Richard Leon on Jan. 15 denied more than one such claim—most prominently, one brought by labor organizations, led by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and the National Treasury Employees Union, and another case covering a number of individual federal workers seeking relief.  

On all of these matters, Judge Leon ruled no dice—citing the chaos that would be caused if essential yet unpaid federal employees legally were permitted to stay home.

But relief came on Jan. 16 when Trump signed the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019, which will provide back pay to federal employees affected by the ongoing partial government shutdown, the White House announced during a brief statement.

The bill "requires the compensation of government employees for wages lost, work performed, or leave used during a lapse in appropriations that begins on or after December 22, 2018, and entitles excepted employees to use leave during a lapse in appropriations," the White House said.

Reader comments

Sun, Jan 20, 2019 Zachery Colorado

Thank God I'm a Postal Carrier... We get paid until people stop buying our services. :P

Fri, Jan 18, 2019 Puregoldj Bethesda, MD

In addition to the 800,000 federal workers, there are at least as many contractors (including me) -- who will NOT get paid for lost salary and leave time. Trump is proving himself beyond any doubt to be by far the worst President we have ever had, in addition to being the most corrupt and unethical. He is destroying the economy and our relations with our allies. It is completely unacceptable to leave 1.5 - 2 million people with jobs unable to get paid for his tantrum about an irresponsible demagogic campaign promise. He is so concerned about border security that he has the folks who enforce it working without pay!

Fri, Jan 18, 2019

Money has already been appropriate for "the wall". There doesn't need to be more. Where has it gone?

Fri, Jan 18, 2019 Teresa M Ohio

Looks like the wall didn’t keep out anyone. There was a tunnel dug under the wall in Arizona!!

Fri, Jan 18, 2019 Ken Boston

I am for the wall. I am also furloughed. At least the wall is a positive move on some immigration issues. The price is chump change what it cost us per day to be in Afghanistan which a total waste of resources and lives. The cost of the furlough has already exceeded the cost of the wall.

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Edward A. Zurndorfer Certified Financial Planner
Mike Causey Columnist
Tom Fox VP for Leadership and Innovation, Partnership for Public Service
Mathew B. Tully Legal Analyst

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