U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard And Others Refuse To Keep Their Congressional Paychecks During Shutdown

Gabbard, also a military police officer with the Hawaii Army National Guard, says she stands with troops and will work without pay for her constituents for the duration of the shutdown.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP Images

Gabbard, also a military police officer with the Hawaii Army National Guard, says she stands with troops and will work without pay for her constituents for the duration of the shutdown.

U.S. Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Colleen Hanabusa from Hawaii jointly announced this weekend that they were opting out of pay for the full duration of the government shutdown in a press release on behalf of both women. The two lawmakers from Hawaii aren’t alone, according to a Roll Call report. This weekend, several members of Congress took to social media to make the same point. The federal government shutdown went into effect Friday night. During the shutdown, some federal employees, like the military, first responders, and others, are obligated to continue to report for duty, though they are receiving no paychecks for the duration of the shutdown.

“Enough is enough. The failure to pass a year-long budget, and allowing the government to shutdown, while playing political football with issues of humanity is inexcusable,” Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who serves on the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees in the U.S. House, said in a statement. “I will not accept any pay during this shutdown, and stand with our troops, law enforcement, first responders, and federal employees in Hawaii and nationwide who continue to serve and report for duty with no pay during this shutdown.”

Gabbard said that Congress needs to put the American public ahead of politics and reopen the government. Until that time comes, though, she, her fellow congresswoman from Hawaii and others are refusing to keep the money from their paychecks. Still, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard informed her constituents that her office will remain throughout the shutdown.

Additionally, Gabbard posted resources on her official website to aid Hawaiian families. Saturday, she also announced in a statement that she is is fighting to pass the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act (H.R.4694) and the Military Pay Protection Act (H.R.2220). These bills would ensure that furloughed federal employees and military personnel still get paychecks during government shutdowns.

“The American people are sick and tired of political games and absent leadership,” Gabbard said in a separate statement calling for a bipartisan deal to stop the shutdown. “Funding the government for weeks at a time through short-term deals, and then shutting it down, is outrageous and was completely preventable.”

According to Hawaii News Now, both U.S. Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Colleen Hanabusa declined their pay during the 2013 shutdown as well as nearly 250 other members of Congress. In 2013, Rep. Gabbard returned her salary right to the U.S. Treasury.

Tulsi Gabbard refuses pay during government shutdown.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard embraces Sen. Bernie Sanders and his wife Dr. Jane Sanders at the Democratic National Convention, July 26, 2016. Mark J. Terrill / AP Images

Gabbard is best known for her role as an adviser and surrogate for former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential election. Gabbard swiftly made a name for herself when she resigned from her post as the Democratic National Committee vice-chair under Debbie Wasserman-Schultz so that she could be free to endorse Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. She has strongly opposed interventionist wars, supported and introduced legislation to benefit veterans, and refused campaign donations by Super PACs. Gabbard won her re-election in 2016 despite little support from the Democratic National Committee.

“Gabbard’s multiple tours of duty in the military, coupled with her unique approach to foreign policy make her a unicorn within the Democratic Party. She is unafraid to challenge Democratic orthodoxy and unwilling to tow the party line,” Michael Starr Hopkins reported of the young congresswoman in an article published in the Hill. “The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and its lack of support during her run has allowed Gabbard the freedom to work with Republicans on budgetary issues, while also supporting a $15 minimum wage and universal health care for all Americans.”