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Should Congress Be Exempt From a Government Shutdown?

February 23, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

If Congress fails to pass a government funding bill before March 4th and we enter shutdown mode, hundreds of thousands of federal workers will be furloughed without pay or asked to continue working in a non-pay status. But guess who will continue to get paid as if nothing happened? That’s right, Members of Congress and the President.

Unlike just about all other federal employees, the salaries for members of Congress ($174,00) and the President ($400,000) are paid from permanent mandatory spending accounts that are not subject to annual renewal from Congress. They are, by law, effectively exempted from shutdowns. In case you’re wondering who decided that Congress’s pay should be immune to Congress failing to fund the government, the answers is, of course …Congress! Funny how that works.

With a government shutdown now looking very likely in early March, some members of Congress want to end their special salary protections. Barbara Boxer [D, CA] in the Senate and James Moran [D, VA] in the House have introduced legislation that would deny basic pay to Congress and the President if there is a more than 24-hour lapse in government funding as a result of a failure to enact appropriations bills or if the statutory debt limit is reached because is was not increased in time.

So far, Boxer has 7 co-sponsors for her bill (S.388), all Democrats, and Moran has 0 for his (H.R.819). According to the Daily Caller, Boxer has asked Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] to fast-track her bill through the Senate as a stand-alone measure. Now word yet on whether that’s going to happen. 

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