Senators Refuse To Sacrifice Pay Amid Budget Cuts They Imposed

Sequester budget cuts

Only a few members of the US Senate have expressed plans to to sacrifice 20 percent of their salaries as an act of solidarity with the many federal employees whose pay will be reduced as budget cuts lead federal departments to furlough thousands of workers at a time.

The idea is not unprecedented; just yesterday Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that he would give up a portion of his salary despite being exempt from having to do so. Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter is also doing the same.

The Hill conducted a survey of the Senate revealing that only South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, Alaska Senator Mark Begich, Utah Senator Mike Lee, and Washington Senator Jay Rockefeller intend to give up a portion of their pay.

Last month Graham proposed a measure urging lawmakers to donate a portion of their pay either to the Treasury or to charity. The Senate approved the proposal, but the vast majority of senators have not expressed any intentions of following through with the sentiment. Most senators did not respond to The Hill‘s survey. A few that did mentioned that they already donate to charity. Perhaps they would be willing to pass an exemption for the soon-to-be-furloughed federal employees that already donate generously as well.

Senators have a federal salary of $174,000, well above the majority of employees who will be made to take a pay cut. A 20 percent pay cut would amount to $34,000 a year, chump change for the half of Congress that consists of millionaires. As Government Executive has reported, pay cuts are a big concern for the league of young federal employees hammered by college debt and living predominantly paycheck-to-paycheck. Then there are the employees with families to provide for. Many employees would just be glad to take $34,000 as their annual salary, but instead they will have to sacrifice pay thanks to senators who can choose not to do the same.

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