While the House unanimously passed a bill last week to pay the 800,000 workers who have been deemed non-essential in the shutdown their lost wages once the government opens again, Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) thinks they shouldn’t get paid.
At a teletown hall on Thursday, a constituent called in to say, “The people that had to work should be paid. But the people that are home watching Netflix and whatever, I’m not sure that we should be sending them checks.”
Yoho replied, “Well, when we voted on that they were supposed to come back to work as part of that deal. … I agree 100 percent with you. If they’re not working they shouldn’t get paid.”
In past shutdowns, workers who have had to report to their jobs without paychecks because they are deemed essential and those put on furlough because they are non-essential have both gotten backpay. But there have been concerns that with the current Congress, things might be different.
The loss of a paycheck while the government remains closed has been a big hardship for furloughed workers. Many live paycheck to paycheck and worry about their ability to weather the loss of wages. Workers have been selling possessions on Craigslist. They have taken second jobs, tapped retirement accounts, canceled vacations, and cut their expenses. Charities like food pantries in the Washington, DC region are bracing for a big influx of federal workers in need.
The loss of their paychecks doesn’t just hurt the workers themselves. It sucks about $1 billion a week from the economy due to the loss of their spending.