Capital Living

Shutdown or no shutdown, lawmakers in House and Senate are certain to get paid

Lawmakers who requested their paychecks be withheld during the government shutdown will end up receiving the money anyway.

{mosads}The Constitution requires all members of Congress be paid — it’s merely a question of timing.

Shutdown pay for House members can be withheld temporarily, but it will have to eventually be dispersed, meaning those lawmakers will get a big chunk of back pay.

Dan Weiser, communications director for the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer, which disperses the House paychecks, said they are accommodating the requests of lawmakers to withhold their pay, but “they will eventually get the money.”

He compared the situation to writing a check for something but not mailing it.

Weiser declined to provide a timeline for issuing back pay, saying simply the office would “hold on to the money for a period of time.”

It’s a little different in the Senate, where members will be paid as normal. 

But a spokesperson for the Office of Secretary of the Senate said staff there would help members write personal checks to return their portion of shutdown pay to the U.S. Treasury. 

House members would have the same option when they receive that windfall of back pay, of turning around and writing a personal check for the amount to the U.S. Treasury. 

More than 100 lawmakers have said they would refuse pay during the shutdown or donate that portion of their pay to charity, according to a count by The Washington Post.

The 27th Amendment of the Constitution 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.”

That means lawmakers’ cannot constitutionally change their pay for this Congress. 

House members are paid at the end of the month, meaning lawmakers and staff received their Sept. 30 paychecks as usual. They are scheduled to be paid again Oct. 31.

Senators and staff are paid on the 5th and the 20th. All will receive their paychecks as normal on the 5th, as that would cover Sept. 15-30. 

It’s the paycheck on the 20th where staffers would see a gap (as that covers Oct. 1-15, which coves the time staffers weren’t paid during the shutdown).

The average salary for rank-and-file members of Congress is $174,000 per year. Members of leadership are paid more.


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