Contractor Back Pay is Back on the Table
The House has taken up legislation that would provide federal contractors with back pay for the most recent government shutdown. Lawmakers already passed legislation granting back pay to federal employees following a shutdown but many remained critical of the unequal treatment provided to federal contractors who were also affected by government closures. House appropriators are now looking toward a legislative fix for this disparity.
The House began considering a second minibus spending package for the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Defense, and State departments on Wednesday. Under Division F Section 3 of the bill, H.R. 3055, federal contractors who were furloughed or laid off as a result of the lapse in appropriations beginning on December 22, 2018 would receive back pay.
According to GovExec, the legislation caps compensation on a weekly basis at what the employee’s standard pay would have been or $965, whichever is lower.
The back pay for contractors comes based on the request of 48 lawmakers who wrote House appropriators in March urging them to include the provision in spending legislation.
In the letter, House members explained, “Federal contractor employees perform jobs that are critical to the operations of our government such as food service, security, and custodial work. These are often low-wage jobs where the result of even one missed paycheck is can [sic] lead to financial distress. The shutdown has left contractors, who often work should-to-shoulder with federal employees, struggling or unable to pay their mortgage, rent, or other household bills. Some have even had to turn to foodbanks to meet their household needs.”
According to GovExec, the White House Office of Management and Budget has stated the administration would oppose this measure if it reached the president’s desk for signature.
“While contractors play an important role in helping government agencies meet their missions, this legislation ignores important principles of federal contracting, and would lead to increased cost and a significant increase in the risk of fraud, waste and improper payment,” OMB wrote. “The administration anticipates significant, disruptive and costly challenges in trying to force-fit the requirements of contractor back-pay legislation into an acquisition system that is not designed or equipped to manage contractor employees.”
The legislation is currently being debated in the House, but without White House approval, it is unclear if the Senate will take up the bill.
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