News Column

Some in Congress Donate Pay During Shutdown

October 1, 2013

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At least two members of the U.S. Congress said they would donate their salaries to charities during the government shutdown that began Tuesday.

U.S. House Rep. Pete P. Gallego, D-Texas, said he would donate his salary during the federal government shutdown to an organization that helps injured military personnel.

"They have sacrificed -- Congress should heed their example," Gallego said of the military in a post on his Facebook page.

Also donating his salary to charity is Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., who posted on his website last week he "will not accept pay for the duration of the shutdown and will donate any salary he receives to local charities."

Funding for the federal government ran out Monday and Congress failed to pass any stopgap measure to keep it open, even temporarily. House Republicans want the defunding or consideration of the Affordable Care Act, colloquially called Obamacare, to be part of the mix and Senate Democrats do not.

Gallego said in a release it was "unconscionable" that Americans across the country would be forgoing wages "while members of Congress continue to receive a paycheck."

Also Tuesday, President Obama told federal employees in a letter he would "keep working to get Congress to reopen the government, restart the vital services that the American people depend on and allow public servants who have been sent home to return to work."

He thanked the federal workers for their work that is conducted "in a political climate that, too often in recent years, has treated you like a punching bag."

He expressed hope that the federal budget would be resolved quickly so the shutdown would end and that his administration would work with federal agencies so workers and their families would be kept informed of events.

A government shutdown affects only agencies and employees funded through annual appropriations but doesn't apply to members of Congress because their salaries are written into permanent law, The Washington Post said. That's why politicians received their salaries in a government shutdown.

Individual congressional members and committee leaders will decide which staffers are "essential" and must show up for work during the shutdown (with retroactive pay) and which staffers get sent home. Whether the released employee receive back pay later is up to Congress, the Post said.

Also, the current Congress actually can't stop its paychecks. The 27th Amendment states that the salaries of the House and Senate can't be altered until the start of a new term.

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Original headline: Congressional members donate salaries during shutdown

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Source: Copyright 2013 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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