If members of Congress fail at their basic job of passing a sensible budget to keep government functioning, the least they can do is show some solidarity with the thousands of Washington federal employees likely to suffer from their inaction.
Give U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer a light pat on the back for being the first member of Washington’s congressional delegation to make a personal sacrifice following the government shutdown of 2013.
The Gig Harbor Democrat posted the following tweet on Monday after it became clear the House and Senate had reached an impasse:
Today I announced I will give up my pay for the duration of a government shutdown. http://t.co/3LFkL7ACSx
— Rep. Derek Kilmer (@RepDerekKilmer) September 30, 2013
As this KING 5 report notes, the U.S. Constitution actually requires members of Congress be paid automatically, but they can still return funds or donate to charity. Representatives and senators make $174,000 annually.
Back in January, Washington’s three freshman Democratic representatives signed on to a “no budget, no pay” provision in a previous bill to temporarily raise the debt ceiling. Our editorial board had hoped this gimmick would help to end an era of brinksmanship. It didn’t work to avert this latest shutdown, but at least U.S. Reps. Suzan DelBene and Denny Heck joined Kilmer in staying true to their word by posting the following tweets Tuesday:
I am making an immediate contribution from my salary to support a local org which is assisting furloughed employees affected by the shutdown
— Denny Heck (@RepDennyHeck) October 1, 2013
During the shutdown, many govt workers will be working without pay. For the duration of the shutdown, I will be returning all of my salary.
— Rep. Suzan DelBene (@RepDelBene) October 1, 2013
DelBene gets extra kudos for consistency. “When sequestration began earlier this year, I returned 8.2% of my salary back to the Treasury, and for the duration of this shutdown, I will return the remainder of my personal salary as well,” she announced on her web site. (Note: DelBene can do this because she’s also the wealthiest member of Washington’s delegation. According to this 2012 Seattle Times news report, her average net worth is estimated at $53 million.)
Per this Associated Press news report, Heck said he planned to contribute part of his salary to “support families of furloughed employees negatively affected by the shutdown.”
According to that same story, Republican U.S. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Jamie Herrera Beutler and Doc Hastings also confirmed Tuesday they’d withhold their salaries for the duration of the shutdown.
Until we can get government running again, 100% of my salary will be going to local charity.
— JaimeHerreraBeutler (@HerreraBeutler) October 1, 2013
In an email, Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert’s press spokeswoman confirmed he planned to do the same.
So far, Democratic U.S. Reps. Rick Larsen, Adam Smith and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray have indicated they plan to keep their pay as they work toward a deal.
U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell and U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott have not responded to press inquiries.