Dem bill would withhold lawmaker pay if DHS shuts down
Democratic legislation unveiled in the House would withhold lawmakers' pay if the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) shuts down on Saturday.
Rep. Brad Ashford (D-Neb.), the bill's sponsor, said members of Congress should go without pay if they miss the deadline for DHS funding.
"All across the country, folks live by the idea that if you don't do your job, you shouldn't get paid," Ashford said in a statement. "The same should hold true for members of Congress, and this bill simply codifies that belief."
Nearly 90 percent of DHS employees would have to work without pay in a shutdown, while another 30,000 workers would be furloughed.
Ashford and all of the other three co-sponsors of the bill represent swing districts. Democratic Reps. Gwen Graham (Fla.), Scott Peters (Calif.) and Ami Bera (Calif.) all faced tough races in 2014 and likely will again next year.
Peters argued that if DHS employees have to work without pay, members of Congress should too.
"It is simple — if the hardworking men and women in the Department of Homeland Security will continue to go to work but not receive a paycheck, members of Congress, who have failed to do their job, should not receive a paycheck either," Peters said.
Graham announced Tuesday that she would donate her pay to charity if the DHS shuts down.
Under the bill, payments held in escrow during a DHS shutdown would eventually be given to lawmakers by the end of the current session once the agency is funded.
The Constitution prevents members of Congress from passing laws that increase or decrease their own salaries. But lawmakers can change the salaries for the next term of office.
Funding for the department and its associated agencies will expire at midnight on Friday unless Congress acts.