"This is not their fault and they should not suffer as a result," Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, said of federal workers. "This bill is the least we should do. Our hard-working public servants should not become collateral damage in the political games and ideological wars that Republicans are waging."
Rep. Michael Turner, an Ohio Republican, said federal workers shouldn't have to worry about paying their bills while Congress and the White House fight over funding the government.
"They have child care expenses, house payments to make, kids that are in college, and while the president refuses to negotiate, while he's playing politics, they shouldn't worry about whether or not they can make ends meet," Turner said.
But even as Congress and the White House rallied around the bill, one outside group said it "demonstrates the stupidity of the shutdown."
Making the shutdown less painful for 800,000 federal employees will encourage Congress and the White House to extend it even longer, driving up the cost, said Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense.
Ellis said "essential" federal workers who stayed on the job "will feel like suckers because they've been working while the others essentially are getting paid vacations."
The White House has opposed other piecemeal efforts by House Republicans to restore money to some functions of government during the partial shutdown. White House officials have said the House should reopen the entire government and not pick some agencies and programs over others.
In the 1995-96 government shutdowns, furloughed workers were retroactively given full pay.
Despite the White House's declared appreciation of the essential role of federal workers, there appeared no sign of a breakthrough in getting them back to work.