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Conservative Review

Vote Alert: Reduce accountability in Congress by making federal pay mandatory spending

This vote was on the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act, a bill that would guarantee back pay for all federal employees at the end of every government shutdown now and in the future.

No one likes government shutdowns. Congress has a responsibility to work together and find compromises that ensure that government is funded, that it stays open, and that federal workers get paid on time for their services. Unfortunately, Congress is run by imperfect men and women, not angels. They can’t always find compromise, and sometimes that means the government must shut down while lawmakers resolve their differences. A consequence of Congress’ inability to compromise is that some federal workers will miss their pay until the government reopens. That is a risk of the job every federal worker takes.

Typically, at the end of a government shutdown, Congress will vote to pay furloughed workers the wages they were due. There is nothing wrong with that, and it ought to be done at the end of every shutdown.

The problem with this legislation is that by guaranteeing pay for federal workers after future government shutdowns, Congress has essentially shifted federal pay from discretionary spending to mandatory spending. This will incentivize Congress to shut down the government in the future because politicians will think, “Federal workers are already taken care of.” The shift to mandatory spending also in effect takes away part of Congress’ constitutional power of the purse, putting spending on autopilot while lawmakers beat their chests on TV and don’t feel an urgent need to reopen government.

Two-thirds of all federal spending is mandatory spending. With a national debt over $21 trillion, Congress should be held accountable for every taxpayer dollar spent. It should not remove the responsibility of voting on federal back pay after causing a government shutdown from elected lawmakers.

The Senate passed this bill by voice vote, so there is no recorded roll call vote.

The House of Representatives passed this bill on January 11, 2019 at 12:10 p.m. ET in a roll call vote of 411 – 7.

To see how your elected officials stack up or other votes that compose the Liberty Score, view our full scorecard here.

Conservative position: NO

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