Government employees expected to receive back pay within days

The White House said Friday that federal workers, who have not received a paycheck in weeks, will be issued back pay "in the coming days."
Image: Flights Into New York's Laguardia Halted Over Air Traffic Control Staffing Issues Related To Gov't Shutdown
People are screened by the TSA on a security screening line at LaGuardia Airport after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced it is delaying flights into multiple airports due to staffing concerns related the government shutdown on Jan. 25, 2019 in New York.Spencer Platt / Getty Images

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By Lauren Egan and Courtney Buble

WASHINGTON — A White House official said Friday that the Trump administration is taking steps to ensure back pay is issued as soon as possible to the roughly 800,000 furloughed employees who went without paychecks during the 35-day government shutdown.

President Donald Trump announced Friday that the government would re-open through Feb. 15 while negotiations on border security funding continue.

“Because of the President’s actions, Federal workers will be paid in the coming days,” the White House tweeted. “To the public servants who have worked without pay and been furloughed, we thank you. To Congress, it is time to negotiate and address the humanitarian crisis on our border once and for all.”

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Administration officials said payroll can vary by agency and encouraged employees to contact their specific employer for further information.

Congress passed a bill Jan. 16 guaranteeing government employees would receive back pay at “the earliest date possible” once the government reopened, regardless of the next scheduled pay date. However, the bill did not extend the same protections to the millions of government contractors, such as janitors and food service workers, who are often paid very little.

“Get the checks out, now. Federal employees haven’t been paid in more than a month and mortgage and rent are due next week,” said National Treasury Employees Union President Tony Reardon in a statement Friday. “They shouldn’t have to wait a minute longer.”

Although there was widespread relief that the government was temporarily reopening, federal employees were wary that they could find themselves in the same situation in just a few weeks.

Mandy Ranslow, an analyst for the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, said she personally feels "cautiously optimistic" about the government reopening and “wouldn't discount the idea we might [be] in this same situation in three weeks considering there are a lot of rich guys making decisions and they don't understand why federal employees are suffering."

Jason Swearingen, a contract worker at NASA, said that by mid-January he had used all of his vacation days to make it through the shutdown.

“I don’t know if I will get my vacation time paid back,” he wrote to NBC News on Twitter. "I'm glad that there's at least a temporary opening, but I'm annoyed that it's temporary."

The Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo also announced Friday that they would re-open next Tuesday.