On Thursday, the Senate approved a bill that ensured federal workers will get back pay once the shutdown ends. The news was announced as the nation approaches the three-week mark in which approximately 800,000 federal employees have been either furloughed or doing their jobs without any paycheck during that period. And although the bill that seeks to pay those people back was approved in the Senate, it still has a few more hurdles to jump through before federal employees are in the clear.
After the Senate approves any given bill, the House of Representatives has to approve it as well. Then, POTUS has to sign it. And though Trump has showed no signs of interest in reaching a compromise with Democratic lawmakers over the border wall funding dispute, he has indicated his interest in signing this bill. According to CBS, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed POTUS' approval of the bill during a statement on the Senate floor on Thursday.
McConnell said, via CBS, "I had an opportunity to talk to the president a few moments ago, and wanted to indicate to our colleagues that he will sign the bill that we are discussing here to guarantee that government workers who've been displaced because of the shutdown will ultimately be compensated."
It's looking very likely that the back pay bill will be passed without much or any disagreement. There's only one central problem: regardless of when the bill gets passed, workers will still only receive back pay once the government shutdown ends. And as the shutdown reaches the point of breaking records, per The New York Times, there's reason to believe it will continue to go on for a while.
The first piece of evidence for that would be the president, himself. Trump recently exclaimed to reporters that the shutdown could last "months or even years" if Democrat lawmakers didn't give in to his demands around border wall funding, according to The New York Times. In a rose garden meeting on Jan. 4, Trump said via the Times, “I’m very proud of doing what I’m doing. I don’t call it a shutdown. I call it ‘doing what you have to do for the benefit and for the safety of our country.’”
Meanwhile, after a meeting on Wednesday with Trump, Sen. Chuck Schumer told reporters that "he sort of slammed the table, and when Leader Pelosi said she didn't agree with the wall, [Mr. Trump] walked out and said, 'We have nothing to discuss,'" according to CBS News.
The state of affairs around the shutdown appears to have become so bleak that some lawmakers are unable to find any encouragement on the matter. After Trump shot down a proposal by Senate Republicans that the government reopen and allow congressional committees to determine border wall funding, Sen. Lindsey Graham said to reporters via Politico, "I think we're stuck. I just don't see a pathway forward. I don't see a way forward."
Graham continued, "I have never been more depressed about moving forward than I am right now. I just don’t see a pathway forward."