Since congress already voted to pay all furloughed workers for the days they missed, what is exactly the point of not having them come into work anymore?
Er... have you been reading the news haven't you? OK, I'll explain.
It's never been about saving money. The GOP wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but doesn't have the votes in the Senate to do it, much less override the veto that would inevitably provoke.
So plan B was to take funding for implementing ACA out of the budget. But they don't have the votes to do that either.
Now when you are arguing over the budget, you still have to keep things running; soldiers and air traffic controllers have to be paid. But the president doesn't have the constitutional power to spend money; he has to spend what Congress tells him to spend, neither more nor less (a lot of Americans don't seem to understand this). He has a lot of influence over the budget, but ultimately Congress has the power of the purse.
So what Congress does when it can't resolve its budget differences on time is pass something called a "continuing resolution". It pretty much says "continue on as you were under the last budget for so many days or until we hash this out." Congress is behind on its budget work so, it's time for a continuing resolution.
What the House Republicans tried to do was slip the budget stuff they didn't have the votes to pass into the continuing resolution. When the Senate stripped that stuff out and sent the CR back to the House, the Republican leadership refused to bring the CR to a vote until their demands were met. Those demands have been a moving target, running from a long laundry list of priorities (including stuff like the Keystone pipeline), to anything that will allow them to claim victory. Boehner has also floated a cut of a certain size to yet-to-be-named budget items as a condition, but this was precisely the gambit that was tried in 2011. Those cuts never materialized, triggering the sequestration cuts across the board this year, including defense. That's not very credible. So the only way the House Republicans come out of this with something that looks like a victory would be to get ACA de-funded, which is not going to happen.
The House Republicans are technically within their rights not to bring an continuing resolution to the floor, but they're using it to undermine the Constitution. They don't have the votes to get what they want, nor have they anything offer in exchange that will persuade anyone else to vote with them, so they're trying to *compel* the Senate to vote the way they want by shutting down the government.
Honestly, it feels like final years of the Roman Republic, when wealthy, ambitious men competed to carve power bases for themselves out of what had been offices of service to the Republic. Crassus Boehner, anyone?
Now they basically get a free paid vacation. If the taxpayer is on the hook for their salaries, they should be doing their jobs.
I agree with you. They should be back at their jobs, and being paid on payday as usual (you do know that essential employees aren't getting paid). But that's not going to happen until one side or another cracks under the political pressure. Already the US Chamber of Commerce is wading in with promises of primary support to Republicans who vote for a clean CR.