Self-imposed sequestration: Obama cabinet follows suit on pay cuts

Updated
This combination shows: (L-R) Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images) Homeland Security Janet Napolitano  (Photo by Chip...
This combination shows: (L-R) Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images) Homeland Security Janet Napolitano (Photo by Chip...

More members of President Obama’s cabinet are following his lead and taking a 5% pay cut to help share in the sacrifice felt by federal workers facing furlough over the sequester.

Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew all said they will give back a portion of their salaries.

“The attorney general intends to take a pay cut equivalent to the maximum amount any Justice Department employee has to take as a result of the sequestration, which is up to 14 days this fiscal year, so that those funds can go back into the Treasury,” the Justice Department told Time magazine.

Napolitano and Lew opted to take the route John Kerry has taken, donating part of their salaries to charities that help their employees and furloughed staff. Napolitano plans to donate 5% of her salary to foundations that benefit Homeland Security staff, while Lew plans to contribute a portion of his salary to nonprofit organizations that are supporting people and programs impacted by the spending cuts.

A handful of members of Congress said they will make similar gestures. Maryland Democrat Donna Edwards issued a statement saying that “Effective March 1, 2013, in addition to cutting office expenses, all of our staff have taken a 2% across-the-board pay cut to avoid any individual serving the Fourth District from being furloughed in order to meet the 8.2% arbitrary, across-the-board cuts called for by the sequester.” She indicated she would donate an equivalent portion of her salary split between domestic violence charities serving her district.

Illinois Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth told constituents this week that she would return 8.4% of her monthly pay, choosing that amount because on average most discretionary programs are facing a comparable cut.

Washington, D.C.’s Eleanor Holmes Norton said last month that she would not collect her paycheck for each day federal employees are furloughed.

“If you’re a member of Congress, surely the notion of lead by example should not just be a slogan,” the Democratic Delegate said according to the New York Times, and also indicated she wouldn’t “be able to look her colleagues and constituents in the eye” if she didn’t take the cut.

Over in the Senate, South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham supported an amendment to the recently-passed Senate budget which called on lawmakers to donate 20% of their pay either to charity or the Treasury, which was passed by voice vote. Only five senators had plans to do give up any of their take-home pay, two Republicans (Graham and Mike Lee of Utah) and three Democrats (Mark Begich of Alaska, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia), according to a survey conducted by Washington publication The Hill.

None of House or Senate leadership in either parties has indicated a willingness to make similar pay cuts.

Many of the rest of Obama’s cabinet members have yet to say whether they’ll join their cabinet colleagues in taking a pay cut, although Kathleen Sebelius says she’ll forgo a self-imposed pay cut because the Health and Human Service Department is not currently expecting furloughs.

Self-imposed sequestration: Obama cabinet follows suit on pay cuts

Updated