Include Congress

Published 11:34 am Friday, April 8, 2011

Daily Herald editorial

It should perhaps be no surprise that, should the federal budget impasse lead to a government shutdown, members of Congress will still get paid. The same can not be said for about 800,000 other federal employees, who will be furloughed, or for members of the military whose pay would be delayed. If Congress can not solve its budget problems it should at least resolve the pay inequity.

The issue has not escaped attention at the Capitol, where members have introduced legislation that would add them to the federal lay-offs, should the budget crisis lead to a government shut-down. Unfortunately, in the House the Congressional pay measure is actually part of the budget bill that is too mired down to pass. In other words, Congress has as usual positioned itself to talk a good game, but not get the job done.

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A few members of the Senate and of the House have said that if there was a shutdown they would donate their paychecks to charity or back to the federal treasury. But most have made no such commitment.

Congress has over the years provided itself luxurious health care benefits and retirement plans far in excess of those that most Americans enjoy. Now it looks like Congress might just bungle budget negotiations so badly that the government will have to shut down, spreading pain just about everywhere except to members of Congress. It’s time for the nation’s elected officials to get in touch with reality by foregoing their pay right along with other federal worker, should that become necessary.