Sen. Tina Smith is still “hopeful and optimistic” of eventual GOP support for her bill to help those hardest hit by the government shutdown

Darshea Browne finally returned to patrolling the halls of the Smithsonian Natural History Museum last week, after the federal shutdown forced her and her fellow security guards off the job in December.

Browne, who lives in Washington, D.C., lost five weeks’ wages — nearly 10 percent of her annual income — and has no idea if she’ll ever see that money.

She knows that unlike other federal government employees, as a contract worker, there is no guarantee that she will be compensated for her lost pay.

“I lost about $1,500 to $2,000” in wages, Browne, 22, told ThinkProgress. “I would like to get my back pay, because I’m a hard worker just like any other federal worker.”

As of Friday, 40 Senate Democrats and 50 Democrats in the House had endorsed legislation that would give back pay to federal contract workers. So far, the bill has the backing of just one lone GOP lawmaker, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME).

“I’m hopeful and I’m optimistic” that the measure eventually will garner bipartisan support, said Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) author of the Fair Compensation for Low-Wage Contractor Employees Act, which would to provide full back pay to the lowest paid contract workers and partial remuneration to the others.

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