NJ congressmen refuse pay during shutdown — But can they?
At least two of New Jersey's Congressional delegates have said they will refuse paychecks until the partial federal shutdown has ended.
The two freshmen, Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill and Congressman Andy Kim, have asked that their "pay be withheld" until the shutdown is resolved.
Sherrill, a Montclair resident who represents the 11th District in North Jersey, is a former Navy Pilot and former federal prosecutor. She released her letter to the chief administrative officer, which was dated Jan. 1.
Kim also previously was a federal employee, including as foreign affairs officer for the Department of State and more recently with the National Security Council. Last week, the 3rd District representative from Bordentown, formally requested that the chief administrative officer withhold his pay during the shutdown.
As of Jan. 15, the 25th day of the partial shutdown, more than 70 members of the House of Representatives and Senate, of both parties have said they will ask to have their pay withheld.
Among the 13 senators who've declined pay are U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, of Pennsylvania, and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, of Connecticut, who's donating his pay to Homes For The Brave.
It's not the first time some representatives have opted to voluntarily withhold their own pay. According to the Washington Post, nearly 250 members of Congress didn’t accept pay during the 2013 shutdown, which lasted 16 days.
It's also not the first time during which some politicians have introduced a measure that would stop all members of Congress from getting paid during a shutdown. U.S. senators from Montana and Texas last week introduced the No Work, No Pay Act 2019. It would require all members of Congress to withhold their pay during a shutdown until the government reopens.
Last winter, there was the No Government No Pay Act 2018, introduced by several senators. The Government Shutdown Accountability and Economic Report Act, introduced in 2017, would have banned members of Congress from being paid salaries during a pay period in which a government shutdown is in effect.
Each time the issue is re-introduced, it is followed by debate of whether any such withholding of pay is legal
The issue stems from the fact that congressional pay is written into the Constitution. The 27th Amendment prevents Congress from raising or lowering its pay between elections.
The salary for most members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives is $174,000.
The offices of Sherrill, Kim and the chief administrative officer did not return requests seeking comment Tuesday.
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