As thousands of government employees fret over whether they will receive their January paychecks, one category of government workers will continue to be paid regardless of a shutdown: senators and members of Congress. But Democratic Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is calling for that to change.
In a tweet on Saturday, Ocasio-Cortez wrote, “Next time we have a [government] shutdown, Congressional salaries should be furloughed as well. It’s completely unacceptable that members of Congress can force a government shutdown on partisan lines & then have Congressional salaries exempt from that decision. Have some integrity.”
Next time we have a gov shutdown, Congressional salaries should be furloughed as well.
It’s completely unacceptable that members of Congress can force a government shutdown on partisan lines & then have Congressional salaries exempt from that decision.
Have some integrity. https://t.co/BgueNNjf0f
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) December 22, 2018
A quarter of the federal government is currently shut down because Republicans and Democrats could not agree on funding of the president’s border wall, and the shutdown could continue into 2019 when Democrats take over in the new Congressional session, according to incoming acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
Although federal workers will all receive a December paycheck, Mulvaney said, their January paycheck could be at risk. But, as Ocasio-Cortez pointed out, representatives and senators will still receive their $174,000 a year salary because Congress wrote them into law. Usually, after a shutdown ends, however, Congress will ensure that federal employees receive any back pay missed due to the government’s closure.
Ocasio-Cortez has made a name for herself as a defender of the working class, but she is not alone in pointing out the hypocrisy of elected officials receiving pay while others do not. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) announced she will donate her salary to a charity in Nevada for every day of the shutdown.
I cannot take a salary during a government shutdown knowing that so many federal workers in Nevada and across the country will go without pay. I’ll be donating my salary to a Nevada charity for every day of the Trump shutdown.
— Senator Cortez Masto (@SenCortezMasto) December 22, 2018
New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik also tweeted that she requested her pay be withheld for the duration of the shutdown.
I submitted a letter today requesting that my pay be withheld during this partial government shutdown: pic.twitter.com/9glqRgmlCG
— Rep. Elise Stefanik (@RepStefanik) December 22, 2018
This is not the first time lawmakers have called for Congressional salaries to be furloughed along with federal employees’. In 2017, Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.) introduced the “No Government – No Pay” Act to prohibit lawmakers’ pay during a shutdown.
Ocasio-Cortez added that she hoped losing shutdown pay “would also cause members who actually depend on their salary to think twice about leadership and take a shutdown vote more seriously.” Because while many wealthy members of Congress can afford to miss a paycheck or two, many Americans, including federal workers, cannot.