Congress Votes to Re-Open Government, Back Pay Coming ASAP

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The House and Senate late today voted to fully reopen the Federal government until Feb. 15, ending a 35-day shutdown that began before Christmas. The votes followed President Trump’s announcement this afternoon that he reached agreement with Democratic leaders in Congress to end the shutdown and continue separate negotiations over funding for a wall on the U.S. southern border.

“We’re pleased that we reached an agreement to reopen government now so that we can have a discussion on how to secure our borders,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters after the agreement was announced.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., released a statement in favor of the plan to reopen the government, noting that the proposal had the full support of the President, making it much more likely to become law.

“The President called on the Senate to act on these proposals, and now that there is an agreement between Democrats and the White House, we can make that happen,” McConnell wrote.

But what remained unclear Friday evening is exactly when Federal employees, who have not been paid since the shutdown began, will receive their back pay, and when they will return to work. On Jan. 16, the President signed a bill into law to give furloughed employees the pay they have missed out on during the lapse in appropriations.

A senior White House official told MeriTalk that the administration is working to ensure that employees will receive pay as soon as possible, and that Federal employees should reach out to their agencies for details.

A statement from the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association advised that Federal workers would be cleared to return to work once President Trump signs the short-term funding bill into law. “The timing of when back pay will be provided is still uncertain and will vary by agency,” the associated advised.

Likewise, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued guidance on Friday afternoon urging agencies to “be prepared to prioritize restoring pay and benefits for employees,” as well as “ensuring appropriate physical and information technology systems security access.”

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