Senate passes bill blocking congressional pay in event of a shutdown
March 1st, 2011
08:07 PM ET
12 years ago

Senate passes bill blocking congressional pay in event of a shutdown

Washington (CNN) – Congress just got one more incentive to find a compromise over government spending before the standoff leads to a government shutdown.

The Senate passed a bill by unanimous consent late Tuesday that would withhold pay for members of Congress and the president if a government shutdown were to happen.

Democratic Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Barbara Boxer of California introduced the bill last week, arguing that if a standoff over government spending leads to a government shutdown, politicians should "feel the pain," too.

"We have to take steps to make sure that elected officials here are living by the same rules as everyone else," Casey said during a news conference last Thursday.

During the news conference the two senators made a point of highlighting various reports that said Republicans were not ruling out a possible shutdown.

The specter of a government shutdown has been hanging over the current debate on a government spending bill. The funding measure expires March 4, and if the two parties can't come to an agreement on spending cuts before then, a short term measure to keep the government running would need to pass to avoid a government shutdown.

Members of Congress and the president fall under mandatory spending, and their paychecks would not be affected in the case of a shutdown, according to Sens. Boxer and Casey. Under their proposal, that loophole would close. Additionally, the legislation would not allow back pay for lawmakers and the president for any days worked during a shutdown.

"If the government is forced to shut down, members of Congress and the president should be treated the same way as all other federal employees," said Boxer. "We should not be paid, and to take it one step further, we should not be paid retroactively once the government reopens."

"We should feel the pain," Boxer said, "and we hope that this is such a simple piece of legislation, it's so fair, that it will wake people up."

Filed under: Barbara Boxer • Bob Casey
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. PKG

    Their pay should be frozen like all other government employees not just if the government shuts down but for the two years they put on everyone else. What makes them special? They are no better than the rest of us.

    March 1, 2011 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  2. Root and stem

    Geee....the cocaine flow from Mexico will grind to halt if the Dems don't have their cash in hand. And those Hollywood nights at the White House will be a little more angry if the Obamists don't have their horse.

    March 1, 2011 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  3. Sarah

    This is probably nothing more than political shot across the bow kind of move, but still, a very interesting one. It's a good symbol..but most of the people in Congress aren't really hurting for money when you think about it. How about agree to the cuts that should be made, pass the bill in the Senate, and have the President sign it. If he Vetos, uphold the passage by a 2/3rds vote. Symbolism is nice and all, but until you guys actually DO something, all it is is political pandering and one-up-manship.

    March 1, 2011 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  4. Lisa Brennan

    Republicans would like to keep and worsen unemployment; gas prices high; heighten the fear of shutting down the gov; bust labor; cut programs for the poor~ do all these things that will weaken the electoral voice, try to make Obama look bad by 2012, cause chaos in order that someone out of their group of 15 scoundrels can slip into the White House. But as we have seen in Wisconsin (NOPE to the DOPE), and as we have seen elsewhere, Americans are united in full force against their rhetoric and their Koch-Brother plans to disassemble America even further than GW Bush did. Let's please not forget what GW Bush actually did to this country. We are all Wisconsins. Workers of the world unite~

    March 1, 2011 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  5. Inmyopinion

    Excellent, good job Democrats!!!!!
    Let's hope this action serves as an example to Wisconsin' Unions and employee workers, helps them realize everyone has taken a hit, they are not privileged, exempt to the problems in our economy. Our tax dollars cannot continue to support these high benefits, pensions, healthcare and Union fees. We in the private sector will have to work harder to pay higher taxes just to financially support government workers and their Unions. Even President Obama might not get a paycheck if the government shuts down and Wisconsin workers want more pay also, how crazy is this?

    March 1, 2011 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  6. NameWillRam1

    Hoorahh!, once again the Democrats are standing their ground against the GOP!.

    These members of the Senate and Congress should never be immune to issues of receiving a Paycheck during a Government shutdown.

    This should be a reality check for these Bozos now, but let's face the truth the GOP still will get paid by the Corporations who are in their pockets.

    March 1, 2011 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  7. buccakenji

    This story suggests that Senators would still get paid since they are not "members of Congress ". The Senate is not Congress as usually referred to in normal conversation. So Sens. Bob Casey and Barbara Boxer are phocking hypocrites and should be shipped to Utah to get in the firing squad line.

    March 1, 2011 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    Finally, a bill that makes sense.

    March 1, 2011 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  9. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    Multi-Millionaires cut off from their paltry salaries...


    March 1, 2011 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  10. Vicki

    This is my kind of bill. No pay for republicans who do every single thing because of their partisan hate. We have President Obama and Democrats working since they were elected to help this country recover from the recession and the ruins of the years that Bush and Cheney did their best to start wars, give subsidies to corporations and republicanize the government to do nothing that corporations would not like. That is exactly what Boehner is right back to do. Kowtow to the corporate lobbyists and their desires without concern for the damage to the middle class and working class who have been harmed most by the recession.

    March 1, 2011 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  11. Walter

    Good, maybe their spouses will dictate the outcome. It should not have required additional legislation. It should have been the law since the last shutdown.

    March 1, 2011 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  12. OneMoreTime

    Great move. Never thought I would see the day, and it makes me feel a little better about Congress. While it is obvious
    most salaries are pocket change for these people, at least they made an effort and I, for one, appreciate it. Now, one
    step further, pay for your own health care. Then we would have something.

    March 1, 2011 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  13. Larry L

    Sadly,the Republicans are normally wealthy enough from corporate kickbacks their salary isn't too important. Still, the spirit of the initiative is genuine and one would hope the Congressional members would never get back-pay after failing to do their job so miserably. I hear the Republicans in the House returned plastic cups to the House cafeteria. If you add that to their abortion dialogue you can capture the entire progress of the GOP-controlled House. Tea anyone?

    March 1, 2011 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  14. Makes sense to me

    This makes so much sense especially the part where their pay is not retroactive but something tells me the House will not vote for it.

    March 1, 2011 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  15. this is 4 show

    most congressmen are already millionaires.... I doubt if missing a paycheck will really effect their bank account.

    March 1, 2011 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  16. TEA Bagger

    How ironic that it is the Democrats who were bold enough to stand up for conservatism and cut Congresisional salaries and pay!

    March 1, 2011 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  17. Moe NY

    Kudos to Casey and Boxer. I totally agree with Casey and Boxer, the politicans should not receive pay or back pay for not performing their jobs. Thank you both, this news is good news. The pain should be felt by the politicans, just as it is felt by most Americans. Will be interested to see how the Republicans/Teabags view this, I have a feeling that there will not be a government shutdown now! GO DEMS! I just love the idea of politicans living by the same rules as everyone else.

    March 1, 2011 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  18. Squigman

    It's a moot point. While many are going to fawn over the senate for passing this bill, it has no teeth, and means nothing to congress, as long as they (congress), are allowed to go on the road and charge speaking fees, or make income from other sources. Make the law something thats all encompassing, taking away any possible way to profit off any disruption in the proceedings of the people, and you'll have a bill worth passing.

    March 1, 2011 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  19. fitzjoe

    good for them, you call that equality!!

    March 1, 2011 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  20. terry, va

    It doesn't go far enough. How about all the federal drones? They shouldn't be paid for work not performed. Oh, wait they already are. Have a nice day 🙂

    March 1, 2011 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  21. Aaron

    There has to be a loophole in it since our reps are all about taking care of themselves. Maybe they give up the pay only if the shutdown lasts for 24 hours or less?

    March 2, 2011 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  22. Veritas

    Sens. Boxer and Casey i like your style!

    March 2, 2011 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  23. J.V.Hodgson

    Too right. the idea that House members and Senators can be subject to different rules than any other government employee is ridiculous. It is also ridiculous that acongress member or elected official cannot be arrested for a possible crime even when the particular legislature is in session. He/she can post bail just like anyone else.
    The law of the land applies to everyone, no exceptions. Might put a bit of morality back into politics so legislate it please.

    March 2, 2011 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  24. jules sand-perkins

    Well, of course! I assumed that if representatives hired to run the government voted to shut it down, they would have the honor to shut down their own paychecks.
    Call me old-fashioned.
    Now, which political party is always talking about values?
    BTW, has the Roman Catholic Church added the weight of its moral stature to this ethical question?
    Have the most fundamental Protestant denominations "spoken to" the issue?
    Maybe not–they're probably too enmeshed in preventing abortions, intervening in stem-cell fatalities, and holding Wednesday prayer meetings where the opening hymn is "Every Sperm Is Sacred," by the Monty Python sect.

    March 2, 2011 03:40 am at 3:40 am |
  25. Steve Jackson

    This is a great way to talk and I hope it passes but like other words that comes from the government they are only words I'll believe it only after it is made a law along with a 50% pay cut I DO NOT TRUST THIS GOVERNMENT they all lie

    March 2, 2011 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
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