Lawmakers collect pay they vowed to skip
Now that the federal government shutdown is over, four of the federal legislators who represent the region in Washington have collected or will collect the pay they said they would skip during the shutdown.
Their logic is simple.
"He was still working," said Tim Murtaugh, the press secretary for U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton. "Congressman Barletta was against the shutdown in the first place, and was at work each day trying to find a solution while having his pay withheld. He will be receiving his pay, just like federal workers who were furloughed during that time."
When it ended the government shutdown about a month ago, Congress agreed to pay government workers who were furloughed whether or not they worked.
Sarah Wolf, the press secretary for U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-Lycoming Township, confirmed her boss would accept his back pay, too, because he kept working. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Moosic, said he would accept his full pay but with a wrinkle.
Cartwright is a co-sponsor of the No Government No Pay Act, which, if passed, would forbid paying members of Congress during a government shutdown. The law would not go into effect until the next Congress because the Constitution forbids passing any law increasing or decreasing the salary of members of Congress while they are in office.
If the law fails to pass before the current Congress leaves office in January 2015, Cartwright said he will calculate the pay he received during the 16 days of the shutdown (Oct. 1-16) and donate that money to charity.
"I might donate it anyway," even if the law does pass, he said. Representatives and senators earn $174,000 a year.
A spokesman for Sen. Bob Casey said the senator would also take his full pay for this month because he kept working. Efforts to reach a spokeswoman for Sen. Pat Toomey were unsuccessful.
Technically, even though many members of Congress said they would forego their pay during the shutdown, it appears no member of Congress actually missed a paycheck during the shutdown because of the timing of paydays.
The Senate pays employees on the 5th and 20th of each month unless payday falls on a weekend, then it is the previous business day. Casey took a paycheck Oct. 4 (Oct. 5 was a Saturday) because it was for the last two weeks of September, his press secretary, John Rizzo, said. The shutdown ended Oct. 16, two days before the next payday, Oct. 18 (Oct. 20 was a Sunday).
In the House, members are paid on the first of each month for the previous month. So the House members got paid for September on Oct. 1, said Dan Weiser, the communications officer for the House chief administrative officer. They will receive their next paycheck Nov. 1.
"I have not heard of anyone who did not" receive his or her pay Oct. 1, Weiser said. Marino did send a letter to the House administrative officer on Sept. 30 asking that his pay be suspended. Barletta sent a similar letter on Oct. 1, Murtaugh said in an email earlier this month.
The Constitution requires paying members of Congress and Weiser said the House administrative office follows that to the letter, but made arrangements to temporarily hold the pay of members who asked for that if the shutdown had lasted into November.