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McCaskill Calls for Congress to Forgo Pay During a Shutdown

Senator sends letter to Speaker Boehner asking him to immediately hold a vote on a ‘No Budget, No Pay’ bill

March 30, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, along with 17 of her Senate colleagues, sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) urging him to immediately take up and pass legislation that would prevent members of Congress and the President of the United States from being paid during a shutdown of the federal government.

In the letter, the senators pointed out that Boehner has repeatedly refused to take up the measure, which was approved by the Senate unanimously a month ago.

The senators wrote, "It is essential that we work together to avoid a government shutdown, but if we cannot do our jobs and keep the government functioning, we should not get paid."

The measure would fix a basic inequity that allows members of Congress and the president to be paid during a government shutdown - while millions of other federal employees are not - because lawmakers and the president are paid through mandatory spending rather than annual appropriations. The bill would also prevent members of Congress and the president from being paid retroactively after a government shutdown. Prior to the 1995 government shutdown, Boehner expressed his support for an identical bill.

Since arriving in Washington, McCaskill has worked to rein in federal spending and has consistently voted against pay increases for members of Congress. Earlier this year, McCaskill introduced legislation that would prevent members of Congress from getting an automatic pay raise each year. The bill would end the annual cost-of-living adjustment provided to members of Congress, which results in an automatic pay raise. Congress passed individual bills, co-sponsored by McCaskill, to eliminate the pay raise for 2010 and 2011, but those bills did not permanently remove the automatic pay raise.

The full text of the senators' letter is below:

March 30, 2011

The Honorable John Boehner
United States House of Representatives
H-232 The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Speaker Boehner:

Nearly one month has passed since Democrats and Republicans in the Senate came together and unanimously passed S. 388, legislation to prohibit Members of Congress and the President from receiving any pay during a government shutdown.

Despite the Senate's bipartisan effort, and requests from members for immediate action, you have taken no steps to hold a vote on this important legislation.

As you know, in the event of a government shutdown, Members of Congress and the President would be treated differently from millions of other Federal employees. While Federal employees would not get paid, Members of Congress and the President would still receive a paycheck because we are paid through mandatory spending, rather than through annual appropriations.

Recently, a number of House Republicans have publicly stated that a government shutdown is unavoidable, and have gone so far as to significantly downplay the negative impact it would have on our economy.

Since members of your caucus are openly predicting a government shutdown, the time to pass this bill is now. Members who want to shutdown the government should not continue to receive a paycheck while the rest of the nation suffers the consequences. Members of Congress and the President should be treated no differently than every other federal employee; we too should have to face the consequences of our actions.

While appearing on the CNN program "Crossfire" in 1995, you offered your support for a bill that is identical to S.388, so it is unclear why you have not scheduled a vote. The closer we get to the expiration of the Continuing Resolution without passage of this legislation, the more it becomes apparent that your primary interest is in protecting the paychecks of your colleagues.

It is essential that we work together to avoid a government shutdown, but if we cannot do our jobs and keep the government functioning, we should not get paid.

We again request that the House immediately take up and pass this legislation in the same bipartisan spirit demonstrated by the Senate. We ask for your immediate response.

Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator

Mark Begich
United States Senator

Michael F. Bennet
United States Senator

Richard Blumenthal
United States Senator

Daniel K. Inouye
United States Senator

Joe Manchin, III
United States Senator

Claire McCaskill
United States Senator

Robert Menendez
United States Senator

Jeff Merkley
United States Senator

Barbara A. Mikulski
United States Senator

Jeanne Shaheen
United States Senator

Debbie Stabenow
United States Senator

Jon Tester
United States Senator

Sheldon Whitehouse
United States Senator

Ron Wyden
United States Senator


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