Congress, President would be paid during US gov’t shutdown
7 Apr, 2011 15:35
Over 800,000 federal workers face the possibility of going without pay for an undetermined amount of time because Congress cannot agree on a budget. Congress, the President however have no need to worry. Their pay will continue as normal.
Playing politics, a number of politicians have called for freezes to congressional pay, but none have effectively acted. Bills have been put forth before both the Senate and House to bloc both legislative and executive pay; however the House bill was lumped with a spending cut bill, which had no chance of receiving approval from the Democrats. In order for a bill to go through, they must agree. Otherwise US President Obama cannot legally sign them.Even if a bill were to pass and receive a signature there would be other concerns. The US Constitution blocks a sitting Congress from altering its own compensation. They cannot give themselves raises or pay cuts. Some have pledged however to forgo their pay or donate it to charity during any shutdown. "If the government shuts down, I will take this pledge, and I urge you all – from the President and Vice President to all Members of Congress – to take it with me: I will forego my federal salary until we reach an agreement," Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin wrote in a letter to his colleagues. "I will donate my salary to charity or return it to the Treasury until the government works again."Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of federal workers sit in waiting not knowing if they will be receiving paychecks after April 8th. As the budget debate continues little progress has been made in negotiations. It is clear leaders on both sides would prefer to find a compromise as opposed to paying the political price of a full shutdown. Republican leaders in the House has put together a bill to extend negotiations and the budget status quo for an additional week, pushing a potential shut down back at least even more days. Both Obama and Republicans have cited progress in negotiations and are seeking more time to hammer out a deal. "It's going to require a sufficient sense of urgency to complete a deal and get it passed and avert a shutdown," said Obama. “I remain confident that if we're serious about getting something done, we should be able to complete a deal and get it passed and avert a shutdown. But it's going to require a sufficient sense of urgency from all parties involved.”However, such negotiations will be touch, as Republicans work to appease Tea Party activist who want severe cuts to the budget. Many in the Tea Party have called on Republicans to shut the government down unless they get all the cuts they ask for; compromise is not an option to some. "Listen, there's no daylight between the tea party and me," said Republican House Speaker John Boehner. "What they want is, they want us to cut spending. They want us to deal with this crushing debt that's going to crush the future for our kids and grandkids.A shutdown however would hinder both parties come election time in 2012; neither can afford further political damage and are likely to compromise before an extended shutdown occurs. This is highlighted by Boehner’s bill offering to extend negotiations for another week, marking the third extension instituted by Congress thus far.