Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.
April 8, 2013 at 10:59 AM
U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene makes right move to give back 8 percent of her paycheck
Praise goes to U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., for making a bold statement Monday that others in Washington’s delegation might echo in the coming days.
The freshman lawmaker has pledged to return 8.2 percent of her monthly paycheck to the Treasury. It’s an act of solidarity as the federal government implements across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration.
Here’s her statement on the decision:
As hundreds of thousands of federal workers face unpaid furloughs and funding for programs that working families depend on such as Head Start and Meals On Wheels are getting cut, the across-the-board cuts from sequestration are starting to impact people throughout the country. It’s only fair that elected leaders are affected as well. While I believe across-the-board cuts are the wrong approach to address our nation’s fiscal issues, as long as the sequester is in effect, I decided that taking a cut myself is the appropriate thing to do.
In that same press release, spokesman Viet Shelton writes, “The U.S. Constitution bars lawmakers from taking legislative action to manipulate their own salaries in the middle of their current term.” Hence, DelBene is returning the money.
One caveat: DelBene is independently wealthy and can afford the cut. (See this archive profile from the news side; in Nov. 2012, KUOW reported her family’s net worth is between $23 million and $83 million.)
DelBene’s personal success shouldn’t diminish the importance of her latest gesture, though. She gets it. Members of Congress shouldn’t be immune from the financial pain they’re inflicting on Americans. Congress’ inability to function or cooperate is a big reason sequestration happened in the first place.
Other lawmakers should consider following DelBene’s lead.