Obama to take sequester pay cut

President Obama will return 5 percent of his salary, retroactive to March 1, in a move intended to symbolize solidarity with federal workers being furloughed as part of the sequester, a White House official said Wednesday.

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The pay cut will remain in place for the remainder of the fiscal year, and is intended to mirror the across-the-board cuts to federal budgets that occurred as part of the $85 billion sequester.

The president's salary is $400,000 per year -- a 5 percent pay cut over 10 months represents just under $17,000.

"The salary for the President, as with Members of Congress, is set by law and cannot be changed. However, the President has decided that to share in the sacrifice being made by public servants across the federal government that are affected by the sequester, he will contribute a portion of his salary back to the Treasury," White House press secretary Jay Carney said.

"He instructed his staff he wanted to do this when the sequester took effect."

The New York Times first reported the decision.

On Tuesday, top officials at the Pentagon said they would also return a share of their salaries. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and his deputy, Ashton Carter, said they would return a portion of their salaries equivalent to the number of furlough days for civilian defense employees.

"He will voluntarily subject part of his salary to furlough levels even though he’s not required,” Pentagon press secretary George Little said. “He has committed to do that.”

Earlier this week, the White House announced that 480 staffers who work at the Office of Management and Budget have received furlough notices requiring that they take unpaid days off due to the sequester. Employees were also told to curtail travel and limit the use of office equipment and mobile wireless Internet cards.

But press secretary Jay Carney would not confirm whether members of the West Wing staff would also receive notices.

“As the impact of the sequester progresses, furlough and pay cuts remain possibilities – or additional furloughs as well as pay cuts remain possibilities for additional White House employees,” he said.

--This report was updated at 9:54 p.m.