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Senate Republicans Hesitate On Back Pay For Furloughed Workers

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WASHINGTON -- WASHINGTON (AP) — A bill the House passed to guarantee that furloughed federal workers receive back pay after the partial government shutdown is resolved seems to have hit a snag in the Senate.

The second-ranking Senate Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, said Monday that "it's premature to do it right now."

The measure passed the House unanimously on Saturday and has the backing of the White House, so eventual passage through the Senate seems assured.

Federal workers have received back pay in previous shutdowns, even as they're left with unscheduled days off. Unless a worker is deemed essential under agency guidelines, it is illegal for them to work or receive pay during a lapse in federal funding.

"I hope that since we're going to pay these people anyway that they would allow them to come back to work right now," said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. "Because it doesn't make sense to say you're going to pay and then leave people home when they could be doing their work and want to do their work."

Majority Leader Harry Reid, however, isn't inclined to devote a lot of the Senate's time to the bill. He may seek to pass the measure by voice vote, a step that could be blocked by any senator.

"There's no sense of urgency for us to do it," said Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. "The federal government's shut down."

Reid has blocked several House measures to reopen certain programs like health research, disaster relief efforts and food aid for low-income pregnant women.

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