Speaker says he'll forgo pay if there's a government shutdown

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) says he will go without pay if a government shutdown takes place, according to a letter obtained by The Hill.

In a concise “Dear Colleague” letter, the top-ranking House Republican told House employees that “[i]n the event of a lapse in appropriations for fiscal year 2011 causing a government shutdown, I will return any and all compensation that I would otherwise be entitled during such a lapse in appropriations.”

Many House staffers will be forced to go without pay if there is a shutdown. Essential workers would stay on the job, while those deemed non-essential would be furloughed.

Boehner sent the letter shortly after announcing that negotiators did not yet have a deal on a government-funding measure to prevent a shutdown, which would occur at midnight Friday.

The letter was sent to House members and support staff.

Under the 27th Amendment to the Constitution, Boehner noted, House members must be paid, explaining that that provision “states that no law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.”

He explained, however, that the requirement “does not bar individual members from refusing to accept their compensation.”

Boehner concluded the letter by stating that if any member would like to join him in refusing pay, they should discuss the logistics with the House Administration Committee.

By unanimous consent, the Senate recently passed legislation that would ban lawmakers and the president from receiving pay if there is a shutdown. Earlier this week, 21 Democrats in the upper chamber urged Boehner to meet with them to discuss the Senate-passed measure, which is sponsored by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.).

—This article was updated at 12:42 p.m.

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