194 Republicans vote against back pay for federal workers hurt by Trump's shutdown tantrum


The House GOP thinks that low-wage workers who lost five weeks of pay during Trump's unnecessary shutdown don't deserve to be repaid.

It's not surprising, but it is disappointing.

On Tuesday, Republicans in the House almost uniformly voted against giving low-wage federal contractors they back pay they lost during Trump's 35-day government shutdown stunt.

A full 194 of the chamber's 198 Republicans refused to vote for an appropriations bill that would help make federal contractors whole. Those low-wage employees — service workers, laborers, and mechanics — lost out on five weeks of pay while Trump shut down the government in a tantrum because no one wanted to fund his border wall.

Thankfully, since the Democrats hold the majority, the bill passed the House regardless.

The measure is hardly a windfall. It would cover up to $965 per employee per week, or less if the employee's actual pay was lower.

But the White House still opposed the bill, saying the legislation "ignores important principles of Federal contracting" and that it would lead to increased cost and "a significant increase in the risk of fraud, waste, and improper payment."

That concern isn't just misplaced — it's made up. There's no reason that a contractor back-pay law couldn't build in significant disincentives, such as the loss of future federal contracts, that would act as a bulwark against contractors misusing the money.

The real issue here is that Trump doesn't value these workers. He doesn't care that his unnecessary shutdown meant that 1 in 4 federal employees had to visit a food bank because they went without pay for so long. At one point during the shutdown, he went so far as to claim that his wall was a "higher purpose than next week's pay" for government workers.

As Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), a sponsor of the measure, pointed out, "Our government relies on these hardworking men and women to keep our government buildings running, and we have a moral obligation to make them whole for the pay they lost during the government shut down."

It's unfortunate that the Republican members of the House don't feel such a moral obligation, but such behavior is a pattern for the GOP. They've voted against protecting Americans brought here as young children, refused to back equal rights, and said no to protecting people with pre-existing conditions.

When faced with an opportunity to do the right thing, the House GOP chooses the opposite every time.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.