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White House Announces Support for Back Pay for Workers (Updated)

Updated 1:27 p.m. | The White House on Friday backed a bipartisan House bill to to make sure furloughed federal workers get back pay.

The bill stands out on a long list of measures the House plans to take up that would reopen the government.

“Federal workers keep the Nation safe and secure and provide vital services that support the economic security of American families. The Administration appreciates that the Congress is acting promptly to move this bipartisan legislation and looks forward to the bill’s swift passage,” said a Statement of Administration Policy. “This bill alone, however, will not address the serious consequences of the funding lapse, nor will a piecemeal approach to appropriations bills.”

The support from the White House should also clear the way for Senate passage. A senior Senate Democratic aide said that Democrats were discussing the matter with the White House and would likely take it up if the White House is on board.

Rep. James P. Moran, D-Va., said late Thursday he hoped that Senate Democrats and the White House would view the matter differently from the narrow mini-CRs that would revive small pieces of the federal government that the House has been considering.

Senate Democrats and the Obama administration have generally opposed the idea of narrowly tailored funding measures.

“I would expect that a bill that is of such a bipartisan nature as this one is, which is not a matter of — of doing the appropriations process piecemeal … but rather a fundamental policy issue: Do we, the government, pay federal employees for time lost that is not their fault?” Moran said Thursday at the House Rules Committee.

“My expectation is that the Senate would find this to be a separate kind of piece of legislation and would in fact approve it, and that the president would sign this,” Moran added.

He is offering the plan with Rep. Frank R. Wolf, a Virginia Republican. Supporters include Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md.

Many of the lawmakers signed on have large populations of federal workers.

“It would take an act of Congress for them to be paid for the time that they were laid off because of the shutdown — or they were furloughed because of the shutdown. And we certainly hope Congress would do that,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday.

In recent practice, spending bills that reopen the government have included riders providing the retroactive compensation.

Humberto Sanchez contributed to this report.

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