Senators passed a bill Thursday to ensure all federal employees, whether they are still working or were furloughed, will be paid in full when the partial government shutdown ends.
The shutdown will cross the three-week mark on Friday, which is also the same day that they will miss their first paychecks.
Senators said they had to find something to do to send a signal of comfort.
“When we reopen, they will be paid,” said Sen. Tim Kaine, Virginia Democrat.
Under federal law essential employees who worked during the shutdown would be paid once government reopens, but those who were furloughed and did not work are not guaranteed pay.
Every previous shutdown has been ended with a deal to pay them anyway for work they did not do, and the Senate’s bill Thursday does the same.
It cleared without objections, with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offering the motion.
The bill was sponsored by Sen. Ben Cardin, Maryland Democrat.
Democrats have blocked other floor action this week as they insist the Senate focus on the shutdown.
The partial shutdown has struck nine federal departments and dozens of agencies, leaving more than 400,000 essential workers on the job without pay, and 350,000 others furloughed.
Democrats said the pay bill should kickstart efforts to get all employees back on the job.
“While this gives them much-needed certainty, they shouldn’t be forced to go without a paycheck at all. Let’s end the shutdown and reopen the government!” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat.
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