Congress

Here are lawmakers diverting pay in solidarity with shutdown employees

Thousands of civilian workers will not receive paychecks due next week if deal to end shutdown isn’t reached

Sen. Mazie Hirono said she will donate her paycheck to food banks in Hawaii during the shutdown. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Several lawmakers have declared they will decline their paycheck or will donate it to charity in solidarity with civilian workers furloughed or working without pay.

Federal workers received their regular paychecks last week for work completed before the shutdown, but if a spending agreement is not reached soon, thousands could see a delay in paychecks scheduled for next Friday.

About 800,000 federal employees at several agencies — Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, State, Transportation, and Treasury — face tough financial decisions.

“It’s very difficult to figure out how long we can survive with the savings we have,” David Arvelo, a health communications specialist at the Food and Drug Administration, told CNBC.

Utah Rep. John Curtis introduced the “No Work, No Pay Act of 2019” on Thursday to freeze congressional pay when any federal agency undergoes a shutdown due to a lack of funds normally allocated by Congress.

“The American people expect Congress to do its most basic job: pass a budget and fund the government. If we can’t, then we shouldn’t get paid,” Curtis said in a statement.

Meanwhile, newly sworn-in Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, said he would continue to collect his paycheck, describing the shows of solidarity by other lawmakers as “gimmicky,” the Grand Folks Herald reported.

“I have no intention of donating my salary while working,” Cramer said to the paper. “The government isn’t shut down, only about 25 percent of it.”

The office of the Chief Administrative Officer of the House of Representatives declined to provide a list of members who have requested that their paycheck be withheld.

The government has interpreted the 27th Amendment of the Constitution to prohibit lawmakers from refusing their pay. 

Of course, members of Congress are typically much wealthier than federal employees. More than 200 members of the last Congress enjoyed a minimum net worth of $1 million or more, according to Roll Call's Wealth of Congress report.

Here are some of the members of the 116th Congress forgoing their pay as the shutdown drags on:

Senate

  • Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado
  • Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut: Blumenthal pledged to donate the salary he earns during the shutdown to Homes For The Brave, which provides housing for the homeless with an emphasis on veterans. “Least I can do,” Blumenthal said.
  • Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia
  • Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania
  • Sen. Steve Daines, R-Montana
  • Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii: “More than 2,500 federal workers in Hawaii are either furloughed or working without pay during the holidays because Donald Trump shut down the government.” Hirono said in a statement. “As long as Donald Trump refuses to re-open the government, I will be donating my salary to Hawaii’s food banks — who serve nearly one in eight Hawaii residents in need.” Hirono committed her salary to three food banks in Oahu and Kauai, Maui and Hawaii island.
  • Sen. John Hoeven, R-North Dakota, said in a statement to Forum News Service that he plans on donating his salary to the North Dakota National Guard Foundation.
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont
  • Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia: “If Congress cannot do our job, we should not get paid," Manchin said in a statement to WOWK. "Children will go hungry, pregnant mothers will not get the nutrients they need and our elderly neighbors will not have dinner on the table. This is unacceptable." Manchin said he would donate the salary he earns during the shutdown to West Virginia food banks.
  • Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada: “Sadly, President Trump has brought our country into yet another crisis right before the holidays,” the senator said in a statement hours before the shutdown was triggered. “The President can end the Trump shutdown today. Until then, I cannot take a salary knowing that so many federal workers in Nevada and across the country will go without pay.” Cortez Masto said she would allocate her salary to Nevada charities, but did not name them.
  • Sen. Martha McSally, R-Arizona: " I don’t believe Members of Congress should get paid while those who keep us safe, like our border patrol agents and CBP officers at our ports of entry, continue to work tirelessly without pay not knowing how they’ll afford their rent and support their families," McSally wrote in her letter requesting her pay be withheld, KGUN reported.
  • Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nevada: Rosen pledged her salary to state organizations “aimed at helping survivors of sexual and domestic violence.” Rosen called attention to lapsed authorization for the Violence Against Women Act, which funds social service agencies including rape crisis centers, women’s shelters and legal-assistance programs.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont
  • Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska
  • Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland
  • Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia
  • Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minnesota: Smith has pledged to donate her salary to The Advocates for Human Rights, a spokesman said.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts: “Over 7,000 people in Massachusetts have been sent home or are working without pay during the #TrumpShutdown,” Warren wrote on Twitter this week. Warren said she would donate her salary to HIAS, a nonprofit that helps refugees.
  • Sen. Todd Young, R-Indiana

House of Representatives

  • Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-Louisiana: Abraham pledged to forgo his pay until the shutdown is over, the Advocate reported.
  • Rep. Rick Allen, R-Georgia: Allen will delay his paycheck, his office confirmed to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa: "I do not believe that it is appropriate for Members of Congress to receive paychecks while Iowa families suffer and our security is compromised due to government dysfunction," Axne wrote in a letter to the House administrator, WOI reported.
  • Rep. Don Bacon, R- Nebraska: “Fairness and decency dictates that my pay also be withheld,” Bacon wrote in his letter to the House administrator.
  • Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Michigan: Bergman urged members of Congress to donate their salaries to local charities.
  • Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Arizona: Biggs sent a letter to the House administrator on Dec. 21 asking that his pay be delayed during the shutdown.
  • Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Oregon: "The House has already passed the bills to fund the government, to keep the government open," Bonamici said. "We need to end this immediately, families are being affected."
  • Rep. Susan Brooks, R-Indiana: “I submitted a letter this morning requesting my pay be withheld for the duration of the shutdown,” Brooks tweeted the day after the shutdown began.
  • Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Florida: “I will not be accepting any pay for as long as the federal government remains shut down. This is yet another sad example of Washington’s dysfunction and inability to compromise,” Buchanan wrote in a tweet. A spokesman added that Buchanan will donate the sum of his deferred salary to charity.
  • Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tennessee: “I know we all want federal employees getting paid for the work they do and agencies like the National Park Service back up and running, but I also know that most folks in East Tennessee do not agree with the Democrats’ proposal,” Burchett said in a statement to the Knoxville News Sentinel. “We want secure borders and [to] refuse to fund abortions and inhumane practices in other countries."
  • Rep. Kevin Calvert, R-California: " No one benefits from a government shutdown," Calvert tweeted.
  • Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-California: “I’m standing in solidarity with federal workers on the Central Coast and across the country who are struggling to pay their bills this month and whose families are hurting due to this irresponsible shutdown," Carbajal said in a statement. "If they’re not getting paid, neither am I."
  • Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Georgia: "If the hardworking federal employees in the First District of Georgia aren't receiving a paycheck, I won't either," Carter said in a statement. "By failing to secure the border, Congress is failing at our most important job."
  • Rep. John Carter, R-Texas: “I have requested that my salary be withheld until an agreement is reached to fund border security and reopen the government, Carter said in a statement.
  • Rep. Joe Cunningham, South Carolina: Congress should be receiving its first paycheck on February 1st," Cunningham wrote on Facebook. "I believe it is unacceptable for Members of Congress to be paid when we have not done our jobs, so I've asked the House Administrator to withhold my paycheck.
  • Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming: Cheney asked her salary be withheld in a letter to the House administrator. “I do not believe it is appropriate for Members of Congress to continue to be paid while we remain in a partial government shutdown,” the House Republican Conference chair wrote.
  • Rep. Doug Collins, R-Georgia: Collins will delay his paycheck, his office confirmed to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • Rep. Jim Costa, D-California: "There should not be special rules for Members of Congress, and just like the affected employees, I ask that my pay be suspended as well," Costa said.
  • Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minnesota: “As I’ve previously committed to, I believe in No Government, No Pay — I would not be accepting pay during this or any future shutdown,” Craig said in a tweet on Dec. 22. “This reckless shutdown is an attack on the hard work federal employees do everyday to provide critical services to millions of Americans.” 
  • Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas: "I’ve asked the Chief Administrative Officer to withhold my pay until we have come to an agreement to adequately fund border security," Crenshaw said.
  • Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colorado: "As long as these workers aren’t getting paid, I won’t take my paycheck, either," DeGette said.
  • Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-New York: "After speaking with my wife Lacey, we decided we cannot in good conscience accept my paycheck right now," Delgado said in a video posted to Twitter. "No one should have to put their lives on hold because of our inability here to find common ground and reopen the government. It's simply reprehensible, particularly when so many people in this country are living paycheck to paycheck."
  • Rep. Neal Dunn, R-Florida: Dunn asked the House administrator to withhold his pay during the shutdown, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.
  • Rep. Adriano Espaillat, D-New York: Espaillat pledged to forgo his salary in solidarity with New York’s 14,000 federal employees, he said in a tweet.
  • Rep. Dwight Evans, D-Pennsylvania: Evans spoke with an air traffic control worker and a mother affected by the shutdown. “[Because] of workers like her, I’m asking the House to withhold my salary until federal workers receive their hard-earned [money]!” he tweeted Wednesday.
  • Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pennsylvania: Not only did Fitzpatrick commit to delaying his pay, he also promised to send his paycheck back to the U.S. Treasury. “I will be leading by example,” he said in a statement. “I am not only encouraging, but I am urging, all my colleagues, both Republican and Democrat, to do the same.” The congressman also reintroduced a constitutional amendment on Thursday aimed at preventing members of Congress from being paid if it fails to pass a budget. The effort would “dock pay for time without a budget as opposed to simply putting member salaries in escrow until end of term,” a spokesman said.
  • Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tennessee: "My message to everyone who will not get a paycheck is we are doing everything possible to get the government back up and running. My message would be I have suspended my pay so I too will share in that pain," Fleischmann said in an interview with WTCV.
  • Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-North Carolina: Foxx submitted a letter on Dec. 22 asking that her pay be suspended until an appropriations agreement takes effect.
  • Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Montana: “I strongly believe it is inappropriate for members of Congress to be paid while portions of the federal government remain shut down,” Gianforte wrote in a letter requesting that his pay be withheld.
  • Rep. Lance Gooden, R-Texas: Gooden submitted his letter to the House administrator mid-January, the Dallas Morning News reported.
  • Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas: Granger submitted her letter on Jan. 3, according to the Dallas Morning News.
  • Rep. Garret Graves, R-Louisiana: Graves pledged to forgo his pay until the shutdown is over, the Advocate reported.
  • Rep. Mark Green, R-Tennessee: "I would feel guilty collecting my paycheck while federal workers don't get paid," Green told the Leaf Chronicle. "We have to close our southern border, and we have to do it fast."
  • Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Oklahoma: “I do not believe that Members of Congress should be paid during period of shutdown,” Hern wrote on Facebook. He is donating his salary to veterans’ groups.
  • Rep. Clay Higgins, R-Louisiana: Higgins pledged to forgo his pay until the shutdown is over, the Advocate reported.
  • Rep. French Hill, R-Arkansas: “I cannot in good conscience accept pay while federal employees are not receiving theirs,” Hill wrote on Facebook. Hill wrote a letter to the House administrator asking his pay be withheld.
  • Rep. George Holding, R-North Carolina: “I will not be accepting any pay for the duration of the government shutdown,” Holding tweeted hours before the shutdown went into effect.
  • Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas: “There’s no good reason why Members of #Congress should continue to receive pay during a needless government #shutdown while other federal employees suffer,” Hurd wrote on Facebook. “That’s why I also plan to ask that my salary be withheld while we work to restore government funding.”
  • Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Louisiana: Johnson pledged to forgo his pay until the shutdown is over, the Advocate reported.
  • Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-South Dakota: Johnson is the only member of the South Dakota delegation in the House who has committed to deferring his salary, the Associated Press reported.
  • Rep. David Joyce, R-Ohio: “If Congress can’t keep the government fully operational, we shouldn’t get paid. It’s that simple,” Joyce said in a tweet.
  • Rep. John Joyce, R-Pennsylvania: Joyce said in a statement that asking the House administrator to withhold his pay was one of his first actions upon taking office. "I call on Speaker Pelosi to end her inexcusable reluctance, engage in good faith negotiations with President Trump to end this impasse and reach an agreement that finally secures our border and properly funds our national security," he said.
  • Rep. David Kustoff, R-Tennessee: "As other federal employees are without pay during the partial government shutdown, I believe Members of Congress should do the same," Kustoff said in a tweet. "That is why I sent a letter requesting my salary be withheld until we come to a resolution regarding funding for the wall & national security."
  • Rep. Al Lawson, D-Florida: "I have instructed the House payroll office to treat me like any other federal employee who is not being paid right now," Lawson said in a statement. "The President is only thinking of himself and not the welfare of the American people." 
  • Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado: "Hundreds of thousands of Americans will be without pay until Congress can resolve the shutdown issue," he said. "That's at least one reason why I will not be receiving my salary until a solution is finalized."
  • Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio: “Since Congress already passed a number of appropriations bill this year, 75% of our government, including our military, will be unaffected by the shutdown,” Latta wrote on Facebook. “That being said, Members of Congress shouldn’t be receiving their paycheck while others, including our border patrol agents, are not receiving theirs. I have asked the Chief Administrative Officer to withhold my pay during this partial shutdown.”
  • Rep. Susie Lee, D-Nevada: “It is wrong that hundreds of thousands of Americans — including many in Nevada’s 3rd congressional district — don’t know when their next paycheck will come,” Lee said in a statement. “So, as this shutdown continues, I will not take a paycheck, and will continue to refuse my pay until the hardworking men and women across the country get theirs.”
  • Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Virginia:“Congress should not be rewarded for poor performance,” Luria said in a statement. Luria expressed concern in particular for the U.S. Coast Guard service members in her district, who could see a delay in the paycheck they are due on Jan. 15.
  • Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-New York: Maloney will delay her paycheck, according to the Daily Voice. 
  • Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-New York: “If federal workers don’t get paid, neither should Congress,” Maloney wrote in a tweet Wednesday. Maloney is a cosponsor of the No Budget, No Pay Act, which withholds the salaries of members of Congress if it fails to pass a budget.
  • Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah: The freshman has crashed with friends in D.C. until his first pay stub, according to the Desert News. "It’s a minor inconvenience compared to what other people are going through," he said.
  • Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina: Many civilian workers expressed outrage when Meadows said stretches without pay are “actually part of what you do when you sign up for any public service position.” The next day the Freedom Caucus chair sent a letter to the House administrator declaring that “as long as our border security agents, air traffic controllers and TSA agents are not paid and their families not supported, I will not accept any salary.” 
  • Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Michigan: Mitchell posted his letter requesting the House administrator withhold his pay on Facebook as the shutdown began.
  • Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Massachusetts: Moulton will defer his pay "as long as furloughed government employees are not paid," his office told MassLive.
  • Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D-Arizona: “It is troubling that the White House and Congressional leaders are allowing partisan gridlock to get in the way of funding our government and preventing a shutdown yet again,” the Blue Dog Coalition chair said in a statement in which he promised to forgo his salary.
  • Rep. Pete Olson, R-Texas: “Federal employees should not be held hostage to dysfunction & inability to solve the problem,” Olson tweeted. The congressman supports a constitutional amendment to make furloughed Congressional salaries standard during shutdowns.
  • Rep. Chris Pappas, D-New Hampshire: Pappas asked the House administrator to withhold his pay. The freshman member said simply, “Congress doesn’t deserve to get paid.”
  • Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Alabama: "Congressman Palmer has requested that his pay be withheld for the duration of the shutdown and will not be paid," a spokesperson told WBMA.
  • Rep. Greg Pence, R-Indiana: "I’m suspending my pay until Congress does its job," Pence said on Twitter. "I support the president’s proposal to secure the border and it’s time for Congress to act."
  • Rep. Denver Riggleman, R-Virginia: "I will not take a paycheck. Instead, I will donate my check to Drakes Branch Volunteer Fire Department in Charlotte Co," Riggelman tweeted this week. "They were recently devastated by Hurricane Michael. Their community came together after an awful tragedy. We can learn from them."
  • Rep. Max Rose, D-New York: “This shutdown is an insult to Americans who work their heart out every day because unlike Congress, they can’t afford to act like children,” Rose said in a statement announcing he would forgo his paycheck. “Other members will have to make their own decisions, but until the shutdown ends, hundreds of thousands of families don’t have that choice,” a spokesman added.
  • Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas: Roy will be paid after the shutdown ends. But Roy was one of only seven members of Congress to vote against granting backpay to furloughed federal workers.
  • Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Maryland: “I’ve asked [the government] to withhold my pay until this senseless #trumpshutdown ends,” Ruppersberger tweeted. Maryland is home to about 23,000 civil servants who are furloughed or working without pay, Ruppersberger said in an op-ed. “This is about fundamental fairness, and so much more. It’s about finally showing our civil servants the respect they deserve,” he wrote.
  • Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Illinois: In addition to pledging to return his salary to the U.S. Treasury until funding is restored, Schneider cosponsored the Hold Congress Accountable Act. The bill would prevent members of Congress from accepting a paycheck during a government shutdown. 
  • Rep. Austin Scott, R-Georgia: Scott will delay his paycheck, his office confirmed to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-New Jersey: “This morning I requested that my pay be withheld until the shutdown is over. 800,000 federal workers are not receiving their paychecks, including 1,000s in New Jersey,” Sherrill said in a tweet. “I came here to govern, not engage in partisan politics at the expense of hardworking Americans.”
  • Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Michigan: Slotkin committed to donating her pay to charity in a tweet.
  • Rep. Lloyd Smucker, R-Pennsylvania: Smucker wrote a letter to the House administrator this week requesting his salary be delayed during the shutdown "because it's the right thing to do," spokeswoman Allison Nielsen told LNP
  • Rep.  Abigail Spanberger, D- Virginia: “As a former federal employee, I know how difficult shutdowns are for the public servants who work through them unpaid, for those who are furloughed and anxious to get back to work, and for those who are responsible for managing the federal government's return to proper function after a wasteful shutdown,” Spanberger wrote in her letter to the House administrator asking that her pay be withheld, WRIC reported.
  • Rep. Ross Spano, R-Florida: “I would support legislation forcing members of Congress to forfeit pay during any government shutdown, and I pledge not to take a paycheck until this impasse is resolved,” Spano said in a statement on Thursday.
  • Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-New York: Stefanik posted her letter to the House administrator on Twitter requesting her pay be withheld.
  • Rep. Van Taylor, R-Texas: “Members of Congress should not be paid when critical federal employees, including our border patrol agents, are denied their paychecks,” Taylor tweeted Thursday.
  • Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-New Mexico: "Today is the first payday that federal employees will miss because of the shutdown," the congresswoman tweeted. "This morning I asked for my pay to be withheld until the shutdown ends."
  • Rep. David Trone, D-Maryland: The freshman confirmed he would delay his pay to the Washington Post.
  • Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Michigan: "Until the partial shutdown is resolved and the government reopened, I’ve asked that my pay be withheld," Walberg wrote on Twitter.
  • Rep. Mark Walker, R-North Carolina: “As liberals refuse to secure our border and drag on this partial shutdown, they’re hurting the very people open border policies pressure the most: our Border Patrol agents,” Walker said in a tweet. “As long as these brave men and women are forced to work without a paycheck, I will be refusing mine as well.” The congressman included a picture of him signing a letter to the House administrator requesting a suspension in his pay.
  • Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Florida: “It is my goal to end the shutdown while providing adequate border security as possible. Until then, I do not believe it appropriate for Members of Congress to be paid while federal employees critical to our national security are not,” Waltz wrote in a letter to the chief administrative officer.
  • Rep. Steve Watkins, R-Kansas: “If you don’t get paid, I don’t," Watkins said in a video.
  • Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Georgia: Woodall will defer his paycheck, his office confirmed to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vermont: "Due to the lapse in appropriations for numerous federal department and agencies, hundreds of thousands of federal employees are working without pay or furloughed without pay," Welch wrote in his letter asking that his pay be withheld.
  • Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-Virginia: Wexton, whose Northern Virginia district is home to a number of federal employees, said she asked the administrative office to hold her pay until the shutdown is resolved. “Because members of Congress continue to receive their pay during these shutdowns even though our constituents do not, please withhold my pay until an appropriations agreement has been reached and other federal employees begin receiving their pay,” she wrote.
  • Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas: Williams will donate pay accrued during the shutdown to a Copperas Cove war museum.  
  • Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Virginia: “We must do our job, and when we don’t, we should feel the consequences just like any other American would,” Wittman said.
  • Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Kentucky: Yarmuth has donated his entire salary to various charities in his district since first being elected to office in 2007 — a sum surpassing $1 million, according to a spokesman. “Charity will never be able to replace the vital role of government, but these organizations each have a profound and positive impact on people’s lives and greatly enrich our community,” the congressman told WDRB last year. Yarmuth has a net worth of $6.1 million, making him the 57th richest member of the 115th Congress, according to Roll Call's Wealth of Congress report.
  • Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-New York: “It’s crazy to me that Members of Congress get paid while military service members do not,” Zeldin said in a statement. “I just told the House Chief Administrative Officer to withhold my pay until the government reopens.”

Members of Congress who have been omitted from this list are encouraged to contact Roll Call (tips@rollcall.com). 

Jennifer Shutt and Katherine Tully-McManus contributed to this report.

 

Correction:This story has been updated to say Rep. Brad Schneider will return his salary to the U.S. Treasury. An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported he would donate it to charity.

 

Watch: What Really Happens During a Government Shutdown

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