Capitol Hill Bureau Chief
As government agencies prepare their lists of employees who would be furloughed during a possible government shutdown, one fortunate group of Washingtonians doesn't have to worry about such things.
Under current law, the president, who earns $400,000 annually, and members of Congress, who draw $174,000, will still receive a paycheck during a budget impasse because their salaries are paid with mandatory, not appropriated, spending.
Not that the law couldn't change.
Last week, the Senate unanimously passed a bill
sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) stipulating that the president and members of Congress would not be paid if the government shuts down over a spending impasse or if the country exceeds its debt limit, which budget experts say would happen later this year if Congress does not vote to raise the national debt ceiling.
"They shouldn't get their pay and they shouldn't get retroactive pay because this is a very basic responsibility that we have to keep the government running," Boxer said Monday of lawmakers taking home salaries during a shutdown.
Of course, the House and President Obama must approve the bill, too. On Monday, Boxer, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and the other co-sponsors of the legislation sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner calling on him to bring the measure up for a vote as soon as possible. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) has introduced the measure in the lower chamber.
"We request that the House immediately take up and pass this legislation in the same bipartisan spirit demonstrated by the Senate," the senators wrote to the speaker. "A government shutdown would be a disaster for our nation and for our economy. We must resolve our differences to avoid a shutdown – and if we cannot, none of us should receive a paycheck while the rest of the nation suffers the consequences."