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Will members of Congress still get paid in case of a government shutdown?

The failure of Republicans to agree on how to fund the federal government is making a shutdown more likely and some federal employees will go without pay.

Who has their pay docked during a government shutdown?

It looks more than likely that the United States government will shutdown on 1 October. Both parties agree that the fault lies with Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy who has been unable to corral members of his Republican party to pass the necessary legislation to keep the lights on.

The fractious GOP majority in the House of Representatives controls the lower chamber by a margin of nine votes. This has given hard-right members outsized influence forcing McCarthy to cave to their demands.

However, their budget proposals, if they got passed in the House, would be dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Without legislation signed by President Biden by 30 September to approve or extend funding for the federal government there will be a shutdown at midnight.

Hundreds of thousands of federal employees would be furloughed, not getting a paycheck until Congress can pass a funding bill. And many of the essential workers who would be required to go to work would have to do so without pay.

Will members of Congress still get paid in case of a government shutdown?

Frustratingly for many the answer is yes. The Constitution and federal law stipulates that federal lawmakers must be paid even if other parts of the government are not. Since 1983, pay for members of the House and Senate has been funded by a permanent appropriation so it doesn’t have to be renewed annually.

Members of both parties have tried to change this offering various proposals that would stop federal lawmakers from getting paid during shutdowns. However, none have gained traction.

Which government employees will be furloughed and who will have to work without pay?

The Antideficiency Act, which governs how federal agencies must act during a shutdown, “prohibits federal agencies from obligating or expending federal funds in advance or in excess of an appropriation, and from accepting voluntary services.” This would mean agencies furloughing large swaths of their staff and stopping them from carrying out a range of operations.

However, employees whose jobs are considered essential, like those necessary to protect life and property, must keep working but will not be paid. Likewise those with constitutional responsibilities or are authorized by other laws can stay on the job.

The President and federal judges continue to be paid during a government shutdown. However, executive and judicial staff could be furloughed. In the case of the later, the judiciary can tap into funds from court fees to keep its 33,000 employees working with pay for about two weeks.

Federal employees that are furloughed or obligated to work without pay during a government shutdown will receive back pay once new appropriations bills are passed.


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