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Stopping Paychecks for Members of Congress during Government Shutdown

Sen. Stabenow Cosponsors Legislation to Stop Special Treatment for Members of Congress

Tuesday, Mar 1, 2011


WASHINGTON-As a critical deadline looms, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow announced today she is cosponsoring legislation to stop Members of Congress and the President from getting paid during a government shutdown.  Lawmakers have until Friday to reach an agreement on a budget bill to continue funding public services.  If an agreement isn't reached, the federal government will cease all non-mandatory activities, disrupting services for middle class families, seniors and veterans across the country. 


Under current law, however, the salaries of Members of Congress are held harmless if a shutdown occurs.  The bill Sen. Stabenow is cosponsoring would ensure Members of Congress and the President will be placed on equal footing with the millions of other Americans who would be affected by a shutdown.


"Lawmakers need to be held accountable and should feel the impact of a government shutdown just like many other Americans will," Sen. Stabenow said.  "A shutdown could disrupt Social Security checks, veterans' benefits, hold up exports and cost private sector jobs, and will stop paychecks for hundreds of thousands of people.  It's only fair that Members of Congress' paychecks be stopped too."


The last time the government was forced to stop services in 1995-96, more than 400,000 veterans saw their disability benefits and pension claims delayed.  Approximately $3 billion in U.S. exports were delayed because export licenses could not be issued, negatively impacting economic growth.  Hundreds of thousands of Medicare and Social Security requests were delayed.  Thousands of passports remained unprocessed, preventing Americans from traveling overseas.  And, for the first time in history, six states ran out of federal unemployment insurance funding used to pay unemployment benefits.


"A government shutdown is an unacceptable outcome that middle class families and our still fragile economy cannot afford," said Sen. Stabenow.  "If there is a shutdown, Members of Congress certainly should not receive any special treatment."


Currently, Members of Congress and the President are treated differently from millions of other Federal Employees because they are paid through mandatory spending required by law (2 U.S.C. 31 and 3 U.S.C 102) rather than through the annual appropriations process.

The legislation Sen. Stabenow is cosponsoring fixes this inequity by stipulating that the President and Members of Congress "shall not receive basic pay for any period in which there is more than a 24 hour lapse in appropriations for any Federal agency or department as a result of a failure to enact a regular appropriations bill or continuing resolution."


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