Saturday, January 26, 2019

Federal Workers Could Get Back Pay Within Days of Deal to End Shutdown
The Hill
01/25/19 05:23 PM EST 

Federal employees who have been furloughed or forced to work without pay during the shutdown could receive back pay within days of President Trump signing a deal to end the stalemate.

Trump said Friday afternoon that he would sign a bill to fund shuttered federal agencies for three weeks while he and Democratic lawmakers negotiate a deal on border security.

Roughly 800,000 federal employees missed their second paycheck since the shutdown on Friday, with deadlines, rent and other critical monthly expenses approaching. The temporary truce between Trump and Democratic leaders clears the way for thousands of federal employees to receive wages withheld during the 35-day shutdown.

Trump signed a bill last Wednesday ordering federal agencies to issue back pay to workers “at the earliest date possible.” That’s largely dependent on how quickly each agency can process its payroll backlog, according to a senior administration official.

“Recognizing the urgency of getting federal employees paid quickly, the administration is taking steps to ensure that they receive pay as soon as possible,” said the administration official.

“Since specific payroll issues vary by agency, employees can find more information about paycheck details by reaching out to their agency.”

Some federal employees have been told they can expect to be paid soon after the president signs a funding bill.

A Trump administration official told The Hill that they’ve been told to expect back pay within two to four business days after the shutdown ends. Members of the U.S. Coast Guard have also been told they’ll be paid within three to five business days.

The Office of Personnel Management, the human resources department for the federal government, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The promise of back pay is welcome news for thousands of federal workers who’ve struggled to make ends meet. Unemployment benefit applications from federal employees spiked last week, and furloughed workers have relied on food banks and low-interest loans amid the shutdown. 

A furloughed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employee stationed at agency headquarters said he’s relieved that the shutdown appears to be ending soon, but worried that another one could start if lawmakers don’t strike a deal.

"I'm nervous that it's only three weeks," the employee said. "Pelosi isn't going to give [Trump] what he wants, and shouldn't. I'm not sure he learned his lesson."

The staffer is also worried that he might not get back pay until the next payday, which is Feb. 8, another two weeks away.

He started working full-time at a retail job during the shutdown, and is actively looking for other jobs.

"If I can get out of EPA, I'll go," he said.

Rebecca Kheel contributed.

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