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Back pay for federal contractors missing from government funding bill

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By Dareh Gregorian

Congress passed a deal to avoid another government funding lapse Thursday night, but the bill — which President Donald Trump is expected to sign — doesn’t offer any relief for the hundreds of thousands of government contractors who were forced to go without pay during the 35-day shutdown.

“These were all collateral damage, innocent victims,” Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., told MSNBC of the contractors, adding that they were “part of a fight that never made sense from the start.”

The exact number of contract workers who were affected is unclear. It’s been estimated that 1.2 million people — from highly paid engineers working with NASA to low-paid cafeteria workers — were affected, though some were able to work on other jobs.

Among those who weren’t paid during the longest shutdown in U.S. history and now aren’t getting back pay are 2,000 workers for SourceAmerica, which places employees with a wide range of disabilities through a nationwide nonprofit network.

“We’re very disappointed there wasn’t a provision for contractors. Our ask all along is they be treated with the same respect as the folks they work alongside every day,” John Kelly, vice president of government affairs and public policy at SourceAmerica, told NBC News.

“For many individuals with disabilities, having a job is one of the most important aspects of their life,” Kelly added.

One of those affected was Fred Pickett, who has worked as a mail clerk at the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C., for more than 27 years.

“I still haven’t gotten my back pay,” Pickett, 63, said. “I just think it’s unfair. We should be getting the same treatment as the other workers.”

He is relieved to be back at work again. “I was bored being at home, plus I missed my co-workers and supervisors,” he said.

While Trump and some Republicans have said they’re opposed to shelling out back pay for contractors — something that was not done in prior shutdowns either — Kelly said there are “still multiple bills that are active” in Congress, and “we’ll continue to work with those sponsors.”

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BREXIT BOOST: Nigel Farage TAKES CONTROL as 100,000 people join new party in one week

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NIGEL Farage’s new Brexit Party has recruited a massive 100,000 members just one week after being registered – and even before the party formally launched or even opened an office.

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Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg returns to Supreme Court for first time since cancer surgery

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By Pete Williams and Elisha Fieldstadt

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg returned to work in the Supreme Court on Friday after more than a month off the bench following surgery.

Ginsburg, 85, is meeting with the other justices for a regular closed-door conference, a court spokeswoman said.

The justice missed her first courtroom argument in 25 years of service Jan. 7 following surgery Dec. 21 to remove a portion of her lung after cancerous nodules were detected.

The cancerous spots were discovered when she sought treatment Nov. 7 for three fractured ribs after she fell in her office.

The court had said after Ginsburg’s surgery that there was no sign of other cancer, that no additional treatment was planned and that Ginsburg would be working from home.

Ginsburg had made a point of returning to the court promptly after two earlier surgical procedures for cancer in 1999 and 2009.



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