A Senate bill that would guarantee back pay for federal contractors who were hit hard by the recent government shutdown has received zero support from Republicans, Vox reported on Tuesday.
Senator Tina Smith (D-MN), one of the bill’s sponsors, has brought more than 20 Democrats on board, but not one Republican senator will support the legislation.
“I don’t know of any Republican opposition to this,” says Sen. Chris Van Hollen (MD), a bill sponsor, adding that he hopes the legislation could be added to any final spending package that funds the government. In the House, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (MA) has also introduced a companion bill.
Many federal contractors, unlike other government employees, are not expected to get back pay for the paychecks they missed during the 35-day shutdown. Because they work for a third-party company that the government pays for its services, contractors don’t get paid when these services aren’t used. During past shutdowns, contractors have been forced to simply chalk up this gap in pay as a loss.
As many as 580,000 contractors, including cafeteria workers, security guards, and IT consultants could be affected by the shutdown in this way, according to NYU public service professor Paul Light.
Smith’s bill would have federal agencies pay out of the money in their budgets that was not touched due to the shutdown.
The Senate bill, which has been dubbed the Fair Compensation for Low-Wage Contractor Employees Act, would require federal agencies to work directly with companies that contract to them in order to provide back pay for the employees caught up in the shutdown.
“If you think about it, they’re paying people for work they would have done but for the shutdown,” Smith said. “In many cases, that money was already budgeted; it just hasn’t been spent.”
Democratic lawmakers remain hopeful that Republicans will eventually come around to supporting the bill.