About one-fifth of our senators and representatives have decided to refuse their pay during the duration of the trim-down, the Washington Post reported Thursday. Its running list of these more sensitive solons reached 121 by late afternoon. Those willing to give up some of their $174,000 annual pay included 61 Republicans, 56 Democrats and four independents.
Four Georgia congressmen made the Post list: Marietta’s own Rep. Phil Gingrey, fellow Republicans Tom Price of Roswell and Paul Broun of Athens and Democrat John Barrow of Augusta. Gingrey said he “will contribute those wages to the U.S. Treasury for debt reduction.” Broun said he would forego his pay “until we are able to resolve the govt shutdown,” per Facebook posting.
Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the Post said, plans to put his shutdown portion of his $193,400 annual salary into an escrow account. Escrow means it’s just being held until the government trim-down is over. Then what? Seeking an answer, your columnist checked Reid’s “contact-me” website and found this message: “Due to the government shutdown, we are unable to respond directly to your comments and opinions at this time.”
In contrast, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) who also draws $193,400 said in a statement, “I will donate my paycheck to charity for as long as Senate Democrats deprive hardworking Americans of their paychecks during this completely unnecessary shutdown.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) who draws $223,500 a year — highest in Congress — “will not be paid for the duration of the shutdown,” a spokesman said. House majority leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) plans to put his pay in escrow while the shutdown lasts, ala Harry Reid and several other members of Congress.
The escrow option was explained, at least in one case, by Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) who said he was going that route and will only accept his shutdown pay “if federal employees who work during the shutdown are also ultimately compensated for their work.” If not, King “intends to donate his pay to charities in Maine.”
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) chose an option directed at the needs of at least some of the people affected by the partial shutdown. An aide said he will “contribute his salary to the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund.”
Bucking the charitable trend was Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) whose spokesman said the senator won’t be paid during the trim-down, adding: “He donates to charity and does not believe a government shutdown should necessitate charitable contributions; compassion for fellowman should.”
President Obama, who has spoken at length about the pain of those affected, draws $400,000 a year salary, and Vice President Biden gets $230,700. As far as taking a pay cut during the shutdown, neither of them has said yea or nay.
Why is that not surprising?