Press Release of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer

For Immediate Release:
February 17, 2011  
Contact:
Washington D.C. Office (202) 224-3553

Boxer, Casey Introduce Bill to Prevent Lawmakers From Being Paid During A Government Shutdown  

Senators Urge Republican Leaders to Take Threat of a Government Shutdown Off the Table

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Bob Casey (D-PA) today introduced legislation that would prevent Members of Congress and the President of the United States from being paid during a shutdown of the federal government, which Republicans have repeatedly threatened.  

“A government shutdown would be a disaster for our nation and for our economy,” Senator Boxer said. “If we can’t resolve our differences, we should not receive a paycheck. It is our job to work together for the good of the American people, and that’s why I call on my Republican colleagues to take the government shutdown option off the table.” 

“Economists have warned that a government shutdown would hurt the economy and endanger job creation,” said Senator Casey. “A shutdown in a fragile economic recovery will hurt people who have already suffered through the recession. If it comes to a government shutdown, everyone should agree that Members of Congress and the President should not receive pay or retroactive pay.”  

Republican leaders have refused to take the threat of a government shutdown off the table, even though a shutdown would affect the lives of millions of Americans by disrupting Social Security checks, benefits for veterans and paychecks for our troops.  

The legislation would prevent Members of Congress and the President from being paid retroactively after a government shutdown, and would also prevent them from being paid if the public debt limit is reached and the government defaults on its financial obligations. 

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 fixes this inequity by saying 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 OR if the Federal Government is unable to make payments or meet obligations because the debt limit….has been reached.”

Senator Boxer's full remarks are below:

Today, I am introducing legislation with Senator Casey to prohibit Members of Congress and the President from being paid during a government shutdown or during times when the Federal Government cannot meet its obligations because the debt limit has been reached. 

The American people have a right to expect that Congress will do its work. 

Clearly, that means making sure that the government is functioning and that services are being provided. 

Social Security checks must continue to arrive on time. 

Veterans must receive the benefits they have earned. 

Passports must continue to be issued. 

Superfund sites must be cleaned. 

Oil wells must be inspected. 

Export licenses must be granted. 

And, our troops must be paid. 

Failing to keep the government open because of politics – or because there is no will to compromise – is a failure of our government. 

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 – we should not be paid. And to take it one step further, we should not be paid retroactively once the government reopens. 

Right now, Members of Congress are treated differently from other Federal Employees. This is because Members of Congress are paid through mandatory spending required by law (2 U.S.C. 31) rather than through the annual appropriations process. 

Our legislation fixes this inequity and is quite simple: 

“Members of Congress and the President 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 OR if the Federal Government is unable to make payments or meet obligations because the debt limit….has been reached.” 

Also, the bill states that “no pay forfeited…may be paid retroactively.” 

Make no mistake; the threat of a government shutdown is real. 

A government shutdown would be a disaster for our nation and for our economy. If we can’t resolve our differences, we should not receive a paycheck. 

But clearly it is our job to resolve our differences for the good of the American people. We call on our Republican colleagues to take the option of a government shutdown off the table. This legislation should nudge them in that direction. 

I am very pleased that Senator Casey has joined me in cosponsoring this legislation. I now call on him to make any comments he would like. 

Video will be available later today at www.Boxer.Senate.gov.