Senator urges lawmakers to give up pay if there's a shutdown
April 7th, 2011
10:25 AM ET
12 years ago

Senator urges lawmakers to give up pay if there's a shutdown

Washington (CNN) - Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia says he'll forgo his pay if there's a federal government shutdown, and he's urging his colleagues in Congress as well as the president and vice president to join him in voluntarily giving up their salaries.

"While millions of American families will be impacted by a government shutdown- whether they are serving our country's military, whether someone in their family is furloughed or whether they are unable to use critical government services – elected officials are the one group who will not be impacted. Just the opposite, in fact: we still get paid," says Manchin, in a letter circulated to fellow lawmakers. "How does that make any sense?"

Manchin, a Democrat and former popular two-term governor of West Virginia, won a special election last November to fill out the last two years of the term of the late Sen. Robert Byrd. Manchin could face a potentially challenging re-election bid in 2012, when he will seek a full six year term. In his first three months in office, Manchin has been effective in grabbing headlines for voting at times against his party.

Manchin says his move is not about politics: "Some in Washington will deride this as an empty gesture. To those naysayers, I say that the American people expect more of us. They expect us to lead by example and share their pain until a budget resolution is reached that reflects our values and priorities as a country."

But Republicans disagree.

"This is nothing short of pure political posturing by multi-millionaire Joe Manchin to cover up for the fact that he and his fellow Washington Democrats have failed to do their jobs," said National Republican Senatorial Committee Communications Director Brian Walsh, in a statement Thursday morning.

Early last month the Senate voted unanimously to pass a bill that would ban members of Congress and the president from getting paid during a government shutdown. But the House did not take up that legislation.

The 27th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits lawmakers from altering their pay during the same Congress in which they vote on such a pay change. But Manchin's pledge avoids the constitutional issue, as it doesn't include changes to lawmaker's salaries.

"I will forego my federal salary until we reach an agreement. I will donate my salary to charity or return it to the Treasury until the government works again," says Manchin.

–Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn

Filed under: Government Shutdown • Joe Manchin
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. gt

    ....if we had a 100 senators like manchin and scott brown...this country would not be in the mess we have now...both use there heads, are not bound by there party, do the best for all americans not a few rich guys or union bosses .... you go joe....

    April 7, 2011 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  2. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Okay Machin, go ahead. Who's gonna stop you? For that matter, you AND the rest of your cohorts from the LEFT AND RIGHT can donate your salaries for the past TWO YEARS as most of you have done little to nothing to earn it.

    Puleeeeze! You're ALL working on my last good nerve.

    April 7, 2011 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  3. Joseph Agunbiade

    Republicans over to you, forgo your salaries. This will prove you are on the side of Americans and not just to frustrate President Obama.

    April 7, 2011 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  4. Debbie from Arizona

    Of course Republicans disagree. Why should they feel any of the pain they are willing to inflict on the rest of America? They are above it all. If they cause the shut down of our Government, then YES they should have to forfeit their pay and any benefits for the duration.

    April 7, 2011 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  5. ConservaFascists/FUBAR

    I don't agree with Manchin on much because he's way too conservative for me to be a democrat, but I'm in total agreement with him on this proposal.

    April 7, 2011 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  6. Danial

    typical Republican greed they don't want to give up their pay but they will shut down the governement and take 800,000 workers pay away. 2012 won't get here fast enough so this greed infested government will be sent out to pasture. That includes Mitch McConnell and all his old cronies.

    April 7, 2011 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  7. A Kickin' Donkey

    It is an empty gesture and I, for one, have grown tired of Manchin attempting to bolster his re-election prospects on the back of the President and the Democratic Party. I have no problem with him having differing views from the President SOME TIME but if he thinks we are not going to hold him accountable, he's got another thought comming.

    Healthcare reform helps the citizens of his state, one of the lesser achievers in education, income & upward mobility.

    April 7, 2011 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  8. lewis martin

    I cant belive that I'm about to say this. But here is a congressman that I could grow to respect and admire. Well done Congressman Manchin. Keep up the good work. I really wish I could vote for you.

    April 7, 2011 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  9. Dazed&Confuzed

    I seem to be on the fence, am I supposed to be impressed that a multi millionaire in the U.S. is foregoing his Govt. pay to show that he and his family are willing to suffer in this economy just like the rest of us? How exactly does an American Multi Millionaire suffer financially when he/she does not get a paycheck? How about paying yourselves around 40,000 a year, paying for your own health care, transportation, office expenses etc. Then letting taxpayers determine when you get a raise and how much. Since thats not going to happen how about term limits (retroactive) so the trash can be emtied every other election.

    The reason our elected officials can't solve the average Americans problems or balance a budget is because in thier world they don't have average American problems, in thier multi millionaire world the only problems they have are how do I give my biggest contributers a larger piece of the American pie while I convince the idiots that consistently vote for me that my goal is to look out for thier interests and wellbeing.

    A revolution occurs when the majority of citizens finally come to the conclusion that the people they thought were looking out for thier best interests were actually only looking out for themselves and a few close friends.

    April 7, 2011 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  10. JB

    so, the goverment could shut down and these dudes, who by the way vote their own pay increases, still get paid. ridiculous. I should have been a senator so I don't have to pay for healthcare and despite how bad the country is I can still get a paycheck to do absolutely nothing.

    April 7, 2011 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  11. Rudy NYC

    Forego your health care and you have deal. And do not mean simply postponing when you get a paycheck. No budget means no pay. Keep it up, and it will be no job. Do it again, and it will be no freedom. Arrested and charged with crimes against the state.

    April 7, 2011 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  12. Debi

    I do not care if it is "nothing short of pure political posturing by multi-millionaire Joe Manchin to cover up for the fact that he and his fellow Washington Democrats have failed to do their jobs". At least he is willing. Now, if he and all his colleagues will be willing to take a 25% pay cut as a stepping stone toward balancing the budget I will be all in for Manchin.

    April 7, 2011 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  13. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Don't forget it was Republicans who voted NO to everything the Democrat Congress put forth and now the ball is in their court and they are still blaming the President, Reid and Pelosi. What kind of mess is that.

    April 7, 2011 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  14. Tari Torch Sweeney - Shaker Heights, OH

    Well, that's nice of him. And I am serious. I don't notice John Boehner or Reid volunteering to do this. Or Paul Ryan. Okay for the "little" guy to guys just collect your checks and go home after turning the lights out – get that direct deposit into your account. Even WITHOUT getting a check, I am sure they won't suffer the way the people will who are going to be affected by this government shutdown. Congress needs to leave, en masse, and we need to wipe the slate clean and start over. What a catastrophe this has become.

    April 7, 2011 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  15. maine liberal

    But Republicans disagree .. of course they do and how about their government healthcare and the other socialist programs they support. here is an idea how out they get paid for performance: the same standard they want to apply to school teachers

    April 7, 2011 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  16. angelo

    The Democratic Senate passed a bill that would ban Congress and the President from getting paid during a government shutdown. The Republican held House did not agree or even take up the legislation. Wow!!!, the Republicans call that political posturing. They should not get paid. During the Bush and the Republican era the quality of life has lessen in this country and job growth was in the negative numbers. Since Obama and the Democrates the job growth is beginning to see positive numbers. Now that the Republicans rule the House there is no compromise just the same old antics, shut the government down. Attack the working class and blame the unions. The Republicans would love to see Americans work for a dollar a day no rights no benefits and call that a competitive pay with Communist countries like China and Russia. There is no patriotism among the Republicans. Instead of cutting domestic programs cut foreign handouts, they add up to billions. Cut outsourcing tax breaks and funding. Add tariffs to imports as do countries like Communist China with our products. Cut tax breaks to the oil companies, they make windfall profits. We are becoming a fascist country ruled by corporations, protected by the Republicans. Look at our towns, cities, streets, schools, our lives all are crumbling due to the greed and selfishness of our polarized Political and Business Leaders. I tip my hat for Sen Joe Manchin, since a shutdown will cut pay to our military it should also cut the pay of our Politicans.

    April 7, 2011 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  17. SusieKJ

    You're wrong Brian Walsh. The American public doesn't consider it political posturing. We actually think it's hypocritical if you DON'T give up your pay. I applaud Manchin's stand.

    April 7, 2011 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  18. Biggge

    Best idea I have heard all day....

    April 7, 2011 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  19. Linda

    My kind of guy! He can afford it as many of the Democrats are multi-millionaires.

    April 7, 2011 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  20. Tom

    Good on you guys – if people go without pay, you should too.

    April 7, 2011 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  21. Truth Dealer

    Manchin is actually right on this one ! They should all give up their pay check's , but I will go even further give them up for the year ! There is no surprise that greedy republican's would object to this . Republican's are the one's that are causing this to happen but they don't want to suffer along with everyone else that will be affected !

    April 7, 2011 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  22. Tony Z

    Tell them Joe! Folks in dire need will need that money.

    April 7, 2011 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  23. BlackPanthers2020

    Ok , so how republicans are against this ? No one has to wonder why either , thier just proving to Americans who they are ......GOP=GREED OVER PEOPLE !!!

    April 7, 2011 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  24. Anonymous

    Does he means permanently or will they repay themselves once the budget is in place?
    No Pay means No pay!

    April 7, 2011 11:57 am at 11:57 am |