WASHINGTON — Members of Congress are continuing to accumulate their salary even as 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed and two million others are on the job during the government shutdown without a promise they will be compensated.
They can’t help it. The Constitution says lawmakers must be paid. But as the shutdown heads into the weekend, dozens of them have said they plan to refund or donate to charity the sums they earn while the government is closed.
Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., said Friday he will donate his pay to Nevada’s Head Start Association and to Three Square, the Southern Nevada food bank.
“It is especially troubling to know that children in my state are being hurt by the shutdown because Head Start centers are struggling and food assistance programs are being threatened,” Horsford said in a statement.
Horsford’s $174,000 annual salary breaks down to $483.33 per day based on a 30-day pay cycle in the U.S. House. Lawmakers collect a check on the 30th of each month.
With the government shutdown in its fourth day on Friday, the Nevada charities were already better off by $1,933 due to Horsford’s decision.
Horsford is the only member of Congress so far to declare he will not accept a salary for the shutdown.
Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, who earns $193,400 ($537.22 per day) as majority leader, has directed his pay be placed in escrow, his staff confirmed this week. Senators get paid twice a month, on the 5th and on the 20th
Whenever the shutdown ends, Reid will decide what to do with the amount accumulated, according to his spokeswoman.
LIkewise, Republican Rep. Mark Amodei will decide on pay day how to handle shutdown earnings, his spokesman said.
Other Nevada lawmakers signaled they will accept their pay if federal employees end up getting paid, which appears increasingly likely.
The House is expected to vote on a bill this weekend that would retroactively pay government workers when the shutdown ends, including those who are furloughed.
Democratic Rep. Dina Titus “will not receive pay until all federal workers are paid,” according to her spokeswoman Caitlin Teare, who said “Congresswoman Titus is working hard to end the government shutdown and get federal employees back to work.”
Same for Republican Rep. Joe Heck, whose spokesman Greg Lemon said “will be treated just like every other federal employee — if they don’t get paid, he won’t get paid.”
If government workers don’t get paid, Republican Sen. Dean Heller would donate his salary to charity, according to his spokesman Chandler Smith. Otherwise, she said, “Senator Heller believes the same rules that apply to every other federal worker apply to him.”
Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at email@example.com or 202-783-1760. Follow @STetreaultDC on Twitter