Members of Congress and their staffs will not have to worry about their paychecks if the government shuts down over a budget impasse. It turns out that each member of Congress has extensive authority when it comes to deciding who is essential and therefore needs to stay on the clock and on the payroll, The Washington Post reported
House GOP members, wary of appearing to want a shutdown, were not willing to discuss plans publicly if one occurs. A spokesman for Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said, "Our goal is to cut spending, not to shut the government down. The only folks talking about a government shutdown are Washington Democrats intent on defending an indefensible status quo," the Post reported.
Nonetheless, during the shutdown of 1995 and 1996, many members of Congress kept nearly all of their staffs working regardless of duties. The White House worked with a skeleton crew, the Post said.
As for amenities and perks, the Senate barbershop was closed but the House gym remained open. A number of lawmakers had planned to go ahead with about 25 foreign trips during the shutdown until it hit the news that embassies would have to handle the congressional visits while working with reduced staffs. The trips were canceled, the Post said.
Aware of how it might look to collect pay while low level workers don’t, the Senate approved a measure last week that would prohibit members of Congress and the president from being paid during a shutdown and bar them from receiving back pay. The measure has yet to come up in the House, the Post said.
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