Congresswoman Terri Sewell

Representing the 7th District of Alabama

Rep. Sewell introduces Back Pay Fairness Act to reimburse federal workers, plus interest

Feb 7, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Reps. Terri Sewell (AL-07) and Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-2) introduced legislation today to provide back pay to federal workers impacted by the government shutdown – with interest.

“The Trump shutdown created significant financial insecurity for federal employees. Not only should the government pay back lost wages, it should work to reverse the real economic pain that will extend well into the future,” Sewell explained. “When taxpayers owe the federal government, interest accrues on late payments. There should be no difference when the federal government owes its hardworking employees.”

“My hope is that this bill will serve as a deterrent for future shutdowns: never again should our hardworking civil servants be used as political pawns,” Ruppersberger said. “But in the unfortunate event that we experience another government shutdown, this legislation will ensure employees will be able to recover from the painful – and long-lasting – impacts.”

When Congress voted to re-open the government in January, all impacted federal employees receive compensation for wages lost during the government shutdown. However, many federal workers were forced to incur additional costs associated with the shutdown, including late payments on bills and loans.

The Back Pay Fairness Act (H.R. 1051) would provide federal workers back pay with interest matched to the Treasury Prompt Payment policy, the same interest rate federal agencies pay on late payments to vendors and contractors. The legislation will retroactively apply to all government shutdowns after December 22, 2018 and provide future security by ensuring federal workers will receive due pay with accrued interest for all future shutdowns.

Since Sewell joined Congress in 2013, the government has shut down three times. Two of the three government shutdowns have occurred during the Trump administration. Most recently, the president’s demand for border wall funding closed the government for a record 35 days, causing hundreds of thousands of workers to miss two paychecks.

U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) previously introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act in the Senate.