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Legislation would ensure federal contractors receive compensation if government shuts down

Rebecca Barnabi
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The Fair Pay for Federal Contractors Act would ensure federal contractors hurt during a potential government shutdown receive compensation for lost wages and benefits.

Congress has until November 17, 2023, to fund the federal government and prevent a shutdown.

U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia helped introduce the legislation to guarantee that federal contractors receive back pay and restored leave benefits in the event of a government shutdown.

In the event of a government shutdown, thousands of federal contract workers face furlough or reduced work hours. Unlike federal government employees, federal contract employees, including thousands of contract service employees who often live paycheck to paycheck, have no assurances that they will receive back pay to make up for lost wages during a shutdown.

The Fair Pay for Federal Contractors Act would ensure that federal contract workers, including food service, janitorial, and security service workers, are fairly compensated for the wages and benefits lost due to a lapse in appropriations.

“Our Commonwealth, our country, and our national security depend on federal government contractors. These hardworking Americans — who play no part in causing government shutdowns — are so often the ones who pay the price for lawmakers’ inability to govern,” Spanberger said. “Far too many federal contractors live paycheck to paycheck. It is high time that we right this wrong and pass legislation to make sure that federal contractors in Virginia and across our country do not pay the price when Congress threatens their livelihoods.”

The Fair Pay for Federal Contractors Act would:

  • Guarantee that contract workers, including low-wage service workers, receive back pay and restored paid leave, if taken, after a government shutdown;
  • Cover costs associated with back pay for workers in an amount equal to their weekly compensation up to $1,442, which is 250% of the federal poverty level for a family of four; and
  • Require the Office of Federal Procurement Policy submit a report on federal contractors accessing back pay.

Just hours ahead of a potential government shutdown on Saturday, Spanberger voted with a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House to keep the federal government open until November 17. Congress now has until this new funding deadline to avert a potential shutdown.


Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.