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Wisconsin’s congressional delegation weighs in on taking paychecks during shutdown

January 21, 2019
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Johnson

As the federal government shutdown drags into its second month, seven of the state’s 10 members of Congress say they have requested their pay be withheld until the government reopens.

Hundreds of thousands of federal employees remain on furlough or are working without pay as the partial government shutdown continues with little indication of any compromise emerging.

The Wisconsin State Journal asked all 10 members of the state’s congressional delegation if they are accepting their paychecks during the shutdown and what, specifically, they are doing to reopen the government from the longest shutdown in U.S. history.

Most members of Congress earn $174,000, a salary that has not been adjusted since 2009, according to the Congressional Research Service. Some with special titles, such as speaker of the house, earn more.

Of the seven congressional members who said they requested their pay be withheld until the government re-opens, two said they will donate their salary accrued during the shutdown to a charity. One representative is accepting his pay and two others responded to the State Journal’s inquiry but did not address the question of pay.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh

Johnson is donating his salary during the shutdown to the Boys & Girls Club of Oshkosh, according to communications director Ben Voelkel.

Johnson introduced legislation that would provide pay to all essential personnel working during the shutdown.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison

Baldwin requested her pay be withheld, according to a statement from Baldwin’s office.

“It is simply wrong when 800,000 federal workers, including nearly 3,000 Wisconsinites, are furloughed or forced to work without pay,” the statement said. “The House did their job and passed bipartisan legislation to end the Trump shutdown. Now, both Democrats and Republicans agree that Senate Majority Leader McConnell needs to stop obstructing a vote in the Senate. We need to end this useless shutdown, reopen the government and make sure federal workers are getting paid.”

Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Janesville

Steil, who took office Jan. 3, requested his pay be withheld, according to communications director Sally Fox. She provided the State Journal with a copy of his request submitted to the chief administrative officer of the House.

“On Wednesday, Bryan took to the House floor calling for House leadership to keep all 435 House members in Washington through the weekend to get the job done and reopen the government. Bryan is listening to the views and suggestions of the people of Southeast Wisconsin as to how to open the government while also securing our border.”

Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Black Earth

Communications director Ron Boehmer did not answer the question on Pocan’s pay.

“Rep. Pocan has voted to pass eight pieces of legislation to end the Trump Shutdown since the 116th Congress started on January 3 and he has repeatedly called on the President to end the shutdown.”

Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse

Kind will go without pay as long as federal employees remain furloughed, communications director Aaron White said. Kind has been a longtime co-sponsor of a bill that would halt pay for members of Congress if Congress fails to pass budget bills on time.

“He has voted nine times this month to reopen the government, but the House bills to do so remain blocked in the Senate. He has long supported bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform, and continues to work to find common ground with his colleagues on this issue.”

Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee

Press secretary Libbie Wilcox did not answer the question on Moore’s pay.

“Time and time again, Senate and House Republicans have stood in the way, holding these bills hostage to their demands for an ineffective and wasteful border wall. … I have received countless calls and letters from constituents who are struggling to make basic ends meet like paying their mortgage or rent, buying gas to get to work, and putting food on the table. The president needs to reopen the government, so we can have a serious conversation about border security when the livelihood of working American families is not on the line.”

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls

Press secretary Chris Krepich said Sensenbrenner is accepting his pay as scheduled. He pointed to a bill Sensenbrenner supported last month that would have funded the government and avoided the shutdown.

Last week Sensenbrenner reintroduced the Build Up Illegal Line Defenses With Assets Lawfully Lifted (BUILD WALL) Act, which would direct money and assets seized from Mexican drug cartels to increase border security.

Rep. Glen Grothman, R-Glenbeulah

Grothman said in an interview with the State Journal that he has requested his pay be withheld. He said the pay will go to charity, though he has not yet decided which one.

Asked when the government could reopen, he said, “It could happen in a couple of months from now.”

He said his focus is on getting pay for federal employees who are still working through the shutdown, such as TSA agents and prison guards. He also said he remains supportive of a physical wall on the southwestern border.

“A wall will always be there,” he said. “If we get another Obama or Bush who doesn’t care much about border security, then we’ve got a problem. But the wall will always be there. Plus it sends a message.”

Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wausau

Communications director Mark Bednar said Duffy requested his pay to be withheld until the shutdown ends.

“(Duffy) is working with his colleagues to secure our southern border and reopen the government.”

Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay

Gallagher tweeted Jan. 11 a letter he sent requesting his pay be withheld.

Gallagher voted for a bill last month before the shutdown that would have funded the government through Feb. 8 and provided $5.7 billion for a border wall.

Gallagher and a group of Republican and Democratic colleagues known as the “Problem Solvers Caucus” attended a meeting Thursday with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, according to communications director Madison Wiberg. He co-sponsored a bill providing pay during the shutdown to working employees.

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