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Dock Congressional Pay When Government Shuts Down

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My oldest daughter came to visit on Christmas day with the expectation that she would be receiving a furlough notice after the holidays. I am a retired transportation executive and a former Marine in my early 70's. Katie has worked for the federal government for almost 27 years. We disagree on most domestic political issues, and we vote for different parties. But we found common ground when we started talking about the current partial government shutdown.

Our country is in a difficult place. We are divided on so many issues, even within our families. But we can all agree that when the government shuts down, the wrong people pay for it. It’s time for Members of Congress and their highest-paid staff members to be docked salary when they don’t decide on annual budgets before the start of a new fiscal year.

Continuing resolutions and government shutdowns waste taxpayer dollars year after year. Congress should be making tough decisions about how much the government should spend and for what. When they refuse to make decisions about the annual budgets of federal agencies, they create waste and chaos - without facing any consequences. Members of Congress and their senior staff are receiving their salaries during the shutdown even though they created it. Federal workers did their jobs, but they are not.

When we were together over the holidays, Katie shared some frustration about working under Continuing Resolutions year after year, regardless of which party has a majority in Congress. In the 26+ years that she has worked for the government, it has been shut down six times. Every time it looks like federal employees might be furloughed because of lapses in federal appropriations, agencies have to prepare furlough notices for thousands of employees and develop shutdown plans. This wastes millions of dollars and thousands of staff hours.

While the things we want Congress to fund and tax are different, my daughter and I agree that Congress's failure to make decisions is seriously bad for the health of our democracy.

This is not the first time Katie has been furloughed, but when it happened in 1995 she was single and had no children. Twenty-three years later, she and her husband have three kids, two of whom are still at home. He is also a federal employee. It's scary not knowing when the next paycheck is coming, even when you are pretty sure that the money will come eventually.

Wherever you stand on the policies and funding that are being debated during this shutdown, please join us to make sure every Member of Congress, every Senator and every senior member of the Administration knows that We the People expect them to do their job. And if they're not going to do it, then they shouldn't be paid.

The House of Representatives should introduce a bill to change Congressional pay regulations so future Members of Congress and their highest-paid staff members will face direct financial consequences when they cause a government shutdown.


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