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Donald Trump Is Reportedly Blocking Democrats' Proposal to Give Back Pay to Federal Contractors Who Lost Wages During the Shutdown

US President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC on February 12, 2019. (Photo by Mandel NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Word emerged earlier this week that Congressional negotiators had come to a tentative agreement to fund the government and ensure we avoid another government shutdown.

Donald Trump had signaled he would likely reluctantly sign the agreement, even though it didn't have the $5.7 billion in wall funding, “barring any drafting surprises or last-minute additions by Democrats,” officials close to Trump told NBC News. The president said he would be “looking for landmines" in the final draft of the legislation.


But now there appears to be yet another thing that could prevent Trump from supporting a deal: Democrats' proposed back pay for federal contractors.

As Senator Roy Blunt reportedly told reporters:

“I’ve been told the president won’t sign that."

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said Wednesday that “35 days without pay is a really long time to go without pay for people living paycheck to paycheck.”

Trump's third shutdown left 800,000 federal workers, many of whom live paycheck-to-paycheck, without pay.

But as Blunt continued, “I guess federal contractors are different in his view than federal employees."

As for federal contractor back pay, “We are working on that," Hoyer said. "Whether or not we accomplish that — I hope we will, but that has not been done at this point."

Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) fired back on Twitter:

To which Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) replied:

Umm, no.

People agreed with Van Hollen and were not surprised Trump was opposing such a measure.

Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD) tried to explain Trump's rationale.

“I understand it’s somewhat complicated, but I think it’s on the negotiators' radar screen, and hopefully they’ll figure a way to work through it. I just don’t think it’s ever been done before, so figuring out duration of contracts — it sounds like it’s the timing issues and all that.”

Thune is hopeful, however, that a deal can be reached to “make sure federal contractors are taken care of.”

One administration official told ABC News that guaranteeing back pay to contractors who, like federal workers, went more than a month without a paycheck during the most recent shutdown, would be a logistical nightmare.

“It’s projected that the federal administrative expense to implement what’s required under the bill could be as high as the actual payouts to contractors,” the unnamed official said. “Even with detailed guidance, the risk of improper payment, overpayment, and fraud, waste and abuse is likely to be significant.”

Democrats and even some Republicans in the Senate disagree.

Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) on Tuesday urged Americans to demand that Congress do the right thing and protect federal contractors.

"After the last federal shutdown, thousands of federal contract employees, many of them in low-wage jobs, aren't getting their back pay and I think that's wrong," Smith said. "We're trying to fix that right now and there's a budget bill that will come to the Senate floor on February 15th. So will you raise your voice and will you speak out to make sure that these federal contract employees, who have never gotten their back pay before, can get it now by passing this bill."

Oh, people are speaking out, alright.

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) told reporters that she does not understand why Trump would deny federal contractors their pay, NBC noted.

Looks like Trump really is running the country the same way he ran his businesses.