Senate Dems seek to withhold congressional pay as shutdown looms

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., makes remarks to reporters as he walks outside the Senate Gallery Washington. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI

Jan. 19 (UPI) — A group of Senate Democrats introduced a bill to withhold congressional pay should there be a government shutdown Friday hours before a deadline to pass a budget.

If Congress doesn’t pass a budget before midnight, members of both the House and Senate would not receive paychecks under the proposed No Government No Pay Act of 2018.

“If members of Congress can’t figure this out and keep the government open, then none of us should get paid,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., one of the co-sponsors of the bill.

Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Jon Tester of Montana, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Joe Manchin of West Virginia also co-sponsored the bill.

Stabenow, and Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., and Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., vowed to give up their salaries should there be a shutdown.

White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaneysaid earlier Friday there are even odds of a government shutdown.

With less than 14 hours until the budgetary issue deadline, Mulvaney said the chances of a shutdown are “50-50.”

“We were operating under sort of a 30 percent shutdown assumption on Thursday,” Mulvaney told reporters. “I think we’re ratcheting it up now.”

However, Mulvaney said that even if a shutdown were to occur, it won’t be as bad as the 2013 shutdown under former President Barack Obama‘s administration.

According to the budget director, “the Obama administration weaponized the shutdown in 2013” for political purposes — but President Donald Trump‘s administration wouldn’t do the same.

“We’re going to manage the shutdown differently, we’re not going to weaponize it,” Mulvaney said. “We’re not going to try and hurt people, especially people who work for the federal government.”

Mulvaney said that unlike the Obama administration, national parks would be kept open in the event of a government shutdown — noting that military personnel and border security agents would report to work, but wouldn’t be paid.

The director said his office was preparing for the “Schumer Shutdown,” referring to the Sen. Charles Schumer D-N.Y.

“I guess the bottom line is we’re working to make sure there is no shutdown, but if the Senate or the House can’t get together to finalize a deal, we’ll be ready,” Mulvaney said.

According to legislative director Marc Short, Trump called bipartisan members of Congress on Friday to have conversations about a last-minute spending deal and will continue speaking with senators today.

“There is no way you can lay this at the feet of the president of the United States,” Mulvaney said.


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