A deal to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling is taking shape, and if it were to pass government operations would resume. That would be good news for Senate staffers, who won’t see paychecks if the government remains closed on Friday.
In a memo to staffers, the Senate financial clerk said Tuesday that it “has no authority to pay salaries until new spending authority is approved.” That means that while health insurance coverage and life insurance and retirement benefits won’t get interrupted, checks won’t be issued until an agreement to re-open the government is reached. House staff receive paychecks at the end of every month and won’t be effected unless Congress can’t reach a deal before the end of October.
Overall, exempted federal employees, or those who were deemed essential and made to work without pay during the shutdown, will get paid when the government is once again funded. Nonexempt employees, or the 350,000 workers who are still furloughed, will only get backpay if Congress passes a bill. Such a measure has been passed in the House and while it has yet to be taken up in the Senate, it is a measure in the Senate’s proposed deal to the end the shutdown. Members of Congress have been paid the whole time because the Constitution prohibits them from changing their pay during the current session.
If the shutdown continues much longer, Senate staffers would be the latest group of federal workers to deal with the loss of a paycheck. Others have been grappling with it for two weeks and told ThinkProgress that they worry about making house payments, paying utilities, and taking planned trips. Workers who have to show up to their jobs without pay have been told that any sick days or other paid leave will be counted as furlough days and not paid back. Furloughed workers also warn that the disruption in their work will have devastating consequences and end up just being more costly in the long run.