While nearly a half million government employees work without pay as the government shutdown continues into its third week, senior officials are scheduled to receive an annual raise that averages around $10,000 a year. At a press conference on Friday, Mike Pence stated that he would not accept the increase to his income, according to the Washington Times.
Ironically, the pay raise comes as a result of the shutdown itself. In 2013, Congress enacted a law that put a cap on pay for senior officials. Each year, that cap is renewed. After Congress failed to pass a spending bill, resulting in the government shutdown, the pay freeze lapsed. The result is that not only are public employees like Mike Pence eligible for a pay raise this year, but they will also be given the raises that have accumulated since the original law passed.
For Mike Pence, that means his salary would increase by $12,800, from $230,700 to $243,500. Cabinet secretaries would see their income climb from $199,7000 to $210,700.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said that the government is aware of the problem and intends to address it, though she blamed Congress for causing the issue in the first place.
"This is another unnecessary byproduct of the shutdown. The Administration is aware of the issue and we're exploring options to prevent this from being implemented while some federal workers are furloughed. Congress can easily take care of this by funding the government and securing our borders," she said.
But after a press conference in the Rose Garden on Friday with President Donald Trump, Pence announced to reporters that he would turn down the raise.
Trump also said that he was considering asking all senior officials to go without the pay raise after being asked about the topic.
"I might consider that," Trump said. "That's a very good question."
Right now, 450,000 federal employees are working without pay and did so throughout the past three weeks of the shutdown. Another 380,000 were furloughed throughout the holidays.
During a Friday meeting between Trump and Democrats, the president said that he would be willing to keep the government closed for years if that's what it took to get the funding that he wants for his wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump is asking for $5.6 billion, while Democratic leaders have refused to consider that amount.
"We won't be opening until it's solved," Trump said. "It's a problem of national security. It's a problem of terrorists."