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The bill to provide furloughed federal employees back pay passed the U.S. House of Representatives, but may now face trouble in the U.S. Senate. Quick passage of the bill appeared in doubt Monday, when Senate Republicans said it is not time to address the issue.
"Nobody should be punished for something that is not their fault," said Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen, member of the House budget committee.
Van Hollen said the vote, which passed the House unanimously, underlined House Republicans' inconsistent stance.
"What the House did also exposes the folly of their position," said Van Hollen. "We said we're going to provide back-pay to all federal employees. So it's totally inconsistent to on the one-hand say you want to pay everybody, and say you're not going to re-open all of government."
For Americans, who according to a new CNN/ORC poll are already angry and frustrated with the way both Democrats and Republicans are handling the shutdown, the situation is bizarre. Why pay people to stay at home?
"The whole thing is crazy," said Van Hollen. "Which is why we're calling on the (Speaker of the House John Boehner) to send people back to work tonight."
House Republicans have tried and failed to pass targeted, piecemeal bills to reopen parts of the government in the short term, including national parks, claims processing at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health.
"The principle is getting the entire government up and running as fast as possible," said Van Hollen. "When Republicans yesterday say they want to pay every federal employee back-pay, you would think the principal that would follow is let's get everybody back to work."
"Why would they want to pay people to stay at home in some federal agencies? That is totally ridiculous," said Van Hollen.
For more of our interview with Congressman Chris Van Hollen, watch the video above.