Jan. 16 (UPI) — In a moment of rare bipartisanship, President Donald Trump signed a Democrat-sponsored bill Wednesday guaranteeing back-pay to workers furloughed by the ongoing partial government shutdown.
Since December 21, several government departments have been shut down due to an impasse between congressional Democrats and Trump over the president’s request of $5.7 billion to fund an expanded physical barrier at the U.S.-Mexico border. This stalemate has forced tens of thousands of federal employees to work without pay, with some 80,000 not receiving a paycheck for the first time last Friday.
However, the signing of the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019, sponsored by Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., requires that all government employees be compensated for “wages lost, work performed, or leave used” during the shutdown, the Whitehouse announced in a news release.
“This is an important step toward providing our civil servants with some stability and hope. But it doesn’t help pay the bills *now.* To do that, we MUST reopen the government,” Sen. Cardin said in a tweet prior to the bill being signed.
Vice President Mike Pence informed U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents of the news, The Hill reported.
“Just moments ago the House or Representatives passed legislation that will ensure that all the dedicated professionals at Custom and Border Protection and all of the agencies affected by this shutdown will be paid in full,” he said from the agency’s Washington, D.C., headquarters.
The measure follows last week’s introduction of a bill that would protect furloughed federal workers from landlords and creditors filing legal action against them for failing to pay their bills during the shutdown, reported the Huffington Post.
Earlier Wednesday, President Trump had a “constructive” meeting with the bipartisan group of Congress members dubbed the Problem Solvers Caucus to negotiate during the shutdown, reported CNN.
And that same day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., urged the president to delay his scheduled State of the Union later this month until the shutdown, which nears its fifth week, comes to an end.