Sources estimate that over two million federal contractors have been affected by the shutdown that is dragging on to Day 22. Many of those contractors are not receiving pay.
As of January 10, thirty-four Democratic senators, including Sen. Chris Val Hollen (D-MD) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) have written the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) requesting that federal agencies provide backpay to low- or middle-income federal contract workers due to the shutdown. Unless a federal contract was fully funded prior to the shutdown, the employees on those contracts are not getting paid during the shutdown, as the government cannot execute new contracts or make payments on incrementally funded contracts.
The senators are urging federal agencies to use the provisions allowing a modification of the terms of a contract award to ensure that contracts affected by the shutdown receive backpay.
A smaller group of the same sentators, including Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) are also supporting legislation that would guarantee backpay to low-wage federal contractors on a more permanent basis in light of the potential of future shutdowns. While Congress has passed legislation giving furloughed federal employees backpay in the past, it has not pushed for the same protections for federal contractors. Congress is trying to take steps necessary to safeguard the financial well-being of its many federal contract workers who rely on the operation of the government to keep financially afloat.