House Unanimously Approves Back Pay For Furloughed Government Workers

We're currently in our fifth day of government shutdown, and the House of Representatives has extended what appears to be the first olive branch meant to get everything up and running again.

Members of the House came together in unanimous bipartisanship to pass a bill approving back pay for furloughed government workers. The vote was a perfect 407 to 0.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid mocked the measure, saying that if the House is willing to support back pay, there's no reason they shouldn't support getting the government up and running again.

"It's really cruel to tell workers they'll receive back pay once the government opens and then refuse to open the government," Reid said on the Senate floor, calling the House bill little more than a "paid vacation" for furloughed workers.

Still, House leadership said that Senate Democrats have to compromise, as well.

"If it's important to ease the pain for [federal employees], what about the vets?" House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor said. "Do the Democrats not feel it's important to ease the pain on them? What about the sick children who need access to clinical trials?"

Cantor is referring to several bills passed in the House that fund the National Institutes of Health and other areas of the federal government suffering during the shutdown. The Senate has rejected all of them, insisting on a "clean" continuing resolution that reopens all of the government.

Despite the continuing disagreements between both parties, there have been some signs that the government shutdown is cooling the partisan gridlock. President Obama cancelled a trip to Indonesia this week in order to remain in Washington to help solve the problem.

House Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy said that this signaled a "unique opportunity" for both parties to work something out.

"If he's here this weekend, we're here this weekend. This can all end," McCarthy said.