Earlier this week, a bipartisan group of House and Senate negotiators reached an agreement on a spending package that would prevent another government shutdown. There was little time to waste: the funding deadline is tomorrow night.
The compromise, however, was a fairly broad outline, which led to another round of behind-the-scenes talks over the details. The final package was unveiled overnight and will likely receive a vote in at least one chamber later today. The White House has signaled Donald Trump's willingness to approve the spending deal, which would end the shutdown threat. (Then again, he's changed his mind before.)
The Associated Press published a good overview, highlighting a variety of elements in the final package, but the Washington Post flagged a point of particular interest.
Lawmakers grappled with a series of last-minute disputes Wednesday as they sought to finalize the deal, including an ultimately unsuccessful push by Democrats to include back pay for thousands of federal contractors who were caught up in the last shutdown, and -- unlike the 800,000 affected federal workers -- have not been able to recoup their lost wages.
Alas, this isn't too surprising. Democrats, led by Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), pushed a provision to include back pay for federal contractors as part of the spending deal, but when reporters asked Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) yesterday whether it would be included, the senator replied, "I've been told the president won't sign that."
The issue could, in theory, be addressed through a separate bill, but its prospects are unclear at this point.
It's worth noting who'll be hurt by this. Some may hear "government contractor" and think of a giant defense contractor that already has considerable resources.
But in this case, we're actually talking about a very different kind of workforce. As Vox recently explained, in reference to those adversely affected by the shutdown, "Up to 580,000 contractors, including cafeteria workers, security guards, developers, and IT consultants, could be missing out on back pay because of the impasse, according to NYU public service professor Paul Light."
Federal officials could approve their back pay. The president doesn't want to.