Five Democratic Senators from states Trump won who have no doubt spent the last year constantly checking in to make sure this is actually happening just introduced a bill that raises the stakes significantly for the looming government shutdown.
Senator Heitkamp issued a statement.
“If members of Congress can’t fulfill their basic duty to keep the government open and provide the essential services Americans depend on, then they don’t deserve their paychecks. Period.”
Other Democratic lawmakers chimed in on Twitter in solidarity.
I'll give up my paycheck if the government shuts down.
I'm sending a letter to the House Chief Administrative Office asking that my pay be withheld in the event of a shutdown. The people I represent wouldn't get paid if they didn't do their job – and neither should Congress. pic.twitter.com/SRBKwuBVyq
— Sean Patrick Maloney (@RepSeanMaloney) January 19, 2018
Members of Congress shouldn't collect a salary while thousands of government employees are furloughed without pay. I’ll return my salary for every day the government is shut down because it's the right thing to do. #FlaPol
— Rep Stephanie Murphy (@RepStephMurphy) January 19, 2018
Republicans, for their part, have struggled to deliver acceptable messaging on this point.
CNN’s Chris Cuomo put Republican Representative Mo Brooks’ feet to the fire in an interview on the heels of the House vote to avert a government shutdown last night.
While we wait to see if the Senate will push the whole thing over the cliff, Cuomo asked Brooks the operative question: Should he get paid if the government shuts down? Watch his response.
— CNN (@CNN) January 19, 2018
Brooks’ response is indicative of how Republicans look at this whole mess. He dodges responsibility for their actions and shifts both the conversation and the onus onto someone else. In this case, it’s the hardworking cadre of civil servants who keep the government up and running.
These are people with careers in government who simply need to pay their mortgages. Brooks describes forcing them to forgo pay as an opportunity to “enjoy the benefits of vacation.” He completely ignores the fact that Republicans forcing this government shutdown denies hardworking Americans the pay they rely on to keep the lights on.
These five Dems have really given the potential shutdown real world consequences. They signal they intend to put their money where their mouth is, or at least to forgo the money until things are up and running as they should be. Jury’s still out on whether any Republicans can muster the same decency.