As federal employees prepare themselves for their first missed paychecks today after lawmakers failed to reach an agreement to end a partial government shutdown on its 20th day, a growing list of congressmen have decided to join them in a show of …
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As federal employees prepare themselves for their first missed paychecks today after lawmakers failed to reach an agreement to end a partial government shutdown on its 20th day, a growing list of congressmen have decided to join them in a show of unity and turn down their own paychecks.
As of Thursday, at least 64 members of Congress had said they will refuse their paychecks during the shutdown, according to a CNN analysis. Officially, by the U.S. Constitution, all congressmen must get paid, so many have said they will instead be denoting their paychecks to various causes.
Among congressional members from the Palmetto State, U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., and the office of U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., have told The Sumter Item that they will donate their paychecks if federal employees don't end up getting back pay.
Norman said Monday in a visit to Sumter that he will be directing his paycheck to a fund for border wall construction along the U.S.-Mexico border, which is the central issue behind the shutdown.
President Donald Trump has insisted on including $5.6 billion in spending from American taxes for the wall, which House Democrats have staunchly rejected. As a result of the stalemate, a lapse in federal funding for nine of the 15 Cabinet-level departments in the government began on Dec. 22, including Agriculture, Homeland Security, State, Transportation, Interior and Justice, according to The Associated Press.
Some 420,000 federal employees whose work is declared essential are working without pay, including the FBI, TSA and other federal law enforcement officers. Some staff at the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security are also working without a paycheck.
About 380,000 other federal employees, including nearly everyone at NASA and most at the IRS, have been told to stay home from work without pay.
As the shutdown enters its 21st day, it will become the longest such lapse in federal funding in U.S. history by Saturday.
According to his chief of staff, Mark Piland, Norman has now decided to also fund some charities and other items in the Fifth District in addition to the border wall.
"We're still going through a few different options, and none of it has been decided exactly at this point," Piland said Thursday. "First, we want to see how long the shutdown is going to be and see what that exact total pay is from the day it started to the day it ended. And then he will make a decision on exactly where it goes and all that."
Scott's press secretary, Ken Farnaso, said Wednesday that Scott will donate that percentage of his salary from the shutdown to his church.
Both Norman and Scott receive an annual salary of $174,000.
A similar proportion of congressmen from both parties have said they will reject their paychecks, according to CNN.
In a related matter, several members of Congress, including Norman, have also pushed legislation that would penalize members for allowing a shutdown to occur.
Norman introduced a constitutional amendment just before the government shutdown began on Dec. 22 that would ban them from being paid.
With the first day of the new congressional session on Jan. 3, Norman had to reintroduce it then, Piland said. It had 11 co-sponsors and, if passed, would become the 28th Amendment to the Constitution.
Democrats have also proposed a bill, under the leadership of U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., that would dock members' pay in the next congressional session after a government shutdown, Piland said. It was also introduced on Jan. 3.
"Both pieces of legislation are just two different approaches," Piland said, "but both are worth looking at."
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