Government

Some Iowa members of Congress have salaries withheld during shutdown

Cindy Axne
Cindy Axne
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Three Iowa Democratic members of Congress either are asking to have their salaries withheld during the partial government shutdown or taking other action to show support for federal employees working without pay.

U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack and freshman Rep. Cindy Axne, from the 2nd and 3rd congressional districts respectively, are asking to have their pay withheld during the shutdown that began nearly three weeks ago.

Members of Congress are paid $174,000 a year, plus benefits.

About 800,000 federal workers received paychecks for the last week of work before the shutdown. But if a spending agreement is not reached soon, they could see delays in paychecks that are due them Friday.

In light of that, Axne has asked the House administration to withhold her pay until the government reopens.

“I do not believe that it is appropriate for members of Congress to receive paychecks while Iowa families suffer and our security is compromised due to government dysfunction,” Axne said.

“As he has done during past shutdowns, the congressman has asked the House administrator to withhold his pay,” Loebsack spokesman Joe Hand said.

First District Democratic Rep. Abby Finkenauer is not asking to have her salary withheld, but “in solidarity with federal workers, I will donate the same portion of my pay that federal employees lose from the shutdown.

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“If federal employees don’t get back pay, members of Congress shouldn’t keep a full paycheck either,” she said.

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who is taking his pay, pointed out that furloughed workers very likely will be paid retroactively when the government reopens.

“But Sen. Grassley fully understands the difficulties, financial and otherwise, furloughed workers are facing right now as they wait for that to happen,” spokesman Michael Zona said. “Sen. Grassley’s office is working to determine what contingency plans are in place to minimize the burden as much as possible.”

The offices of Republicans Sen. Joni Ernst and Rep. Steve King did not respond to questions about their pay during the shutdown.

The office of the Chief Administrative Officer of the House of Representatives declined to provide a list to RollCall.com of members who have requested that their paycheck be withheld.

The government has interpreted the 27th Amendment of the Constitution to prohibit lawmakers from refusing their pay.

However, RollCall.com has compiled a list of about 50 senators and representatives who are asking to have their pay withheld or are donating all of part of their pay during the shutdown to not-for-profit organizations.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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