Inhofe: Donating pay over sequester ‘childish,’ public relations stunt

The top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee is not impressed by President Obama, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and others donating part of their paychecks in solidarity with those affected by sequester.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) told a small group of reporters Tuesday that he thought the move was “childish” and little more than a public relations stunt.

“I think that’s kind of childish because it doesn’t really accomplish anything,” Inhofe said. “Apparently they weighed public opinion and they think it’s a plus, so they’re doing it. I probably will not follow their lead.”

Defense officials have been setting the trend for salary donations that are tied to the sequester.

Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the Senate Appropriations Committee back in February that he would donate the portion of his salary equivalent to furloughs Pentagon civilians were facing.

Then last week, Hagel became the first Cabinet secretary to offer to donate a portion of his pay over sequestration.

One day later, Obama said he was donating 5 percent of his salary as a show of solidarity, and a host of other Cabinet secretaries followed, along with several lawmakers.

The military service secretaries also said last week they will donate a percentage of their salaries commensurate to Pentagon furloughs.

Not all of Inhofe’s Republican colleagues agree with his take on the donations.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) praised Carter at the February hearing for offering to take a pay cut, saying it would be “very wise for us to follow your lead as members of the United States Senate.”

Graham told reporters Tuesday that he was donating 20 percent of his salary this year, half to wounded warriors and half to the American Cancer Society.

A survey of Senate offices by The Hill last week found that Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) were also planning to give up some of their take-home pay.

— Alexander Bolton contributed