Congress Still Gets Paid -- It's in the Constitution - kcentv.com - KCEN HD - Waco, Temple, and Killeen

Congress Still Gets Paid -- It's in the Constitution

Posted: Updated:

(CNN) -- In an extended shutdown, most of the federal workforce would go without pay, but the checks will keep coming to the 533 current members of Congress.

"That is disgraceful in my view," said freshman Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, told CNN. "Basically the only people who get paid in a shutdown are members of Congress, and that is irresponsible."

Gabbard plans to send any pay she receives during a shutdown back to the Treasury. The combat veteran said she was shocked to find out recently that members' pay is protected.

It is -- by the Constitution.

The 27th Amendment to the Constitution restricts any Congress from changing its own pay. The measure was proposed in the first days of the Republic but was not ratified until 1992, after a grass-roots movement promoted the idea and the necessary number of state legislatures approved it.

While many may have wanted to restrain Congress from increasing its pay, the amendment also blocks Congress from freezing or cutting its compensation.

The result? Congress gets paid no matter what. Gabbard is not the only member surprised.

"I don't even know whether it stops or not," Rep. John Fleming, R-Louisiana, said when asked about his pay during a shutdown.

When told that the Constitution mandates congressional paychecks stay as-is, Fleming responded that he hadn't thought through what he would do yet but would likely donate his pay during a shutdown to charity.

"Obviously we need to share the pain of the American people," he concluded.

The offices for the top two members of Congress -- House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid -- wouldn't respond to specifics about their pay.

According to a report by the Lexington Herald-Leader newspaper, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, plans to donate his salary to charity during the shutdown.

Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Texas, told CNN he is urging his fellow members of Congress to donate their pay to charitable causes.

"I don't think we should get paid until (the shutdown) is resolved," Rep. Pete DeSantis, R-Fla, told CNN's Jake Tapper on Tuesday. "I've asked the clerk to withhold any pay for me until we get this up and running. I just think that that's fair for the folks involved who've been negatively affected by this."

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, disagreed with DeSantis. "I think that's another game (House Republicans) want to play, appealing to a demagogic approach to this," Hoyer told Tapper on Tuesday.

"Members of Congress ought to be on the job working hard," Hoyer added, "getting this job done to the American people, getting their government opened, getting federal employees back to work and serving the public, serving the growth of our economy, serving our national security ends."

While members will get paid, they must decide which of their own office staff have to go home.

Members of Congress run their own office payroll and will decide who is essential and non essential. But even congressional staff members who work during a shutdown would not get paid until later -- only their bosses will get paid on time.

"My staffers are working with pay. Right now," Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, said Tuesday on "Crossfire."

"They're doing oversight on the federal government. ... They're continuing to work on the waste."

Coburn also said he's keeping his salary earned during the shutdown. "I'm going to keep my salary and going to make sure I spend it and tithe it and give to it charities and do the thing that I've always done. ... I'm not going to stop working."

But Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, who appeared alongside Coburn on "Crossfire" on Tuesday, is taking a different approach.

"Eighty percent of my staff, unfortunately, is on furlough," she said, "I'm going to be contributing [my salary] on a daily basis. For every day we are not seeing an open -- a government that's open, I'm contributing."

  • Latest NewsMore>>

  • Buffalo Bills Will Pay Up to $3M to Settle Text-Messaging Lawsuit

    Buffalo Bills Will Pay Up to $3M to Settle Text-Messaging Lawsuit

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 4:35 PM EDT2014-04-23 20:35:11 GMT
    In 2014, Buffalo Bills starting quarterback EJ Manuel will cost the team $2.02 million against their cap. Thanks to a lawsuit from a disgruntled fan, the Bills will pay roughly $1 million more than that just for their phone bill.More >>
    In 2014, Buffalo Bills starting quarterback EJ Manuel will cost the team $2.02 million against their cap. Thanks to a lawsuit from a disgruntled fan, the Bills will pay roughly $1 million more than that just for their phone bill.More >>
  • Georgia Law Allows Guns in Some Schools, Bars, Churches

    Georgia Law Allows Guns in Some Schools, Bars, Churches

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 3:58 PM EDT2014-04-23 19:58:47 GMT
    Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a wide-ranging gun bill into law Wednesday that has critics howling and proponents applauding.House Bill 60, or the Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014 -- which opponents have nicknamed the "guns everywhere bill" -- specifies where Georgia residents can carry weapons. Included are provisions that allow residents who have concealed carry permits to take guns into some bars, churches, school zones, government buildings and certain parts of...More >>
    Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a wide-ranging gun bill into law Wednesday that has critics howling and proponents applauding.House Bill 60, or the Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014 -- which opponents have nicknamed the "guns everywhere bill" -- specifies where Georgia residents can carry weapons. Included are provisions that allow residents who have concealed carry permits to take guns into some bars, churches, school zones, government buildings and certain parts of...More >>
  • Two College Football Players Arraigned in Beating of Homeless Man

    Two College Football Players Arraigned in Beating of Homeless Man

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 3:52 PM EDT2014-04-23 19:52:25 GMT
    Two college football players were arraigned in Massachusetts Superior Court on Wednesday for allegedly kicking and beating a homeless man until a passerby shielded the victim's body with her own, the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office said.Craig "C.J." Parsons, 22, and Anthony Varrichione, 23, were charged with aggravated assault and battery and aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. Additionally, Parsons was charged with "with violating the state's witness int...More >>
    Two college football players were arraigned in Massachusetts Superior Court on Wednesday for allegedly kicking and beating a homeless man until a passerby shielded the victim's body with her own, the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office said.Craig "C.J." Parsons, 22, and Anthony Varrichione, 23, were charged with aggravated assault and battery and aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. Additionally, Parsons was charged with "with violating the state's witness int...More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KCEN, Owned and Operated by London Broadcasting Company. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.