While a growing number of congressional members have either rejected their paychecks earned during the government shutdown or announced that they will donate the money to charity, several members of Congress have said that they need to get paid during the shutdown.
Republican Congressman Lee Terry of Nevada told the Omaha World Herald that he “cannot handle” giving up his shutdown-earned paycheck.
“I’ve got a nice house and a kid in college, and I’ll tell you we cannot handle it. Giving our paycheck away when you still worked and earned it? That’s just not going to fly.”
When asked by the newspaper whether or not he will continue to keep his paychecks, Rep. Terry answered, “Dang straight.” The congressman added that it was an irrelevant question because the shutdown would soon come to an end.
According to the Washington Post‘s tally, at least 138 House and Senate members have said they plan to donate or refuse compensation earned during the shutdown. Members who have declined to comment about their paychecks have continued to remain silent, but Congressman Terry was more forthright, calling paycheck donations mere publicity stunts.
“Whatever gets them good press,” Terry said about members donating their salary. “That’s all that it’s going to be. God bless them.”
Around 800,000 federal employees are furloughed during the government impasse, but 535 lawmakers will continue to be paid from mandatory funds set aside for Congress.
GOP Congressman Kevin Cramer of North Dakota also said that he would be keeping his salary. ”I will continue to earn it, and I will continue to collect what I earn,” he said in an interview with Valley News Live.
Most recently, North Carolina Congresswoman Renee Ellmers told an ABC affiliate WTVD that she is not in a position to be able to defer her paycheck. “I need my paycheck. That’s the bottom line,” she said.
Criticized for her comments, Congresswoman Ellmers released a statement Friday afternoon saying she asked that her paycheck be withheld for the duration of the shutdown. In her letter, Ellmers insists she was unaware that congressional members were still getting paid during the shutdown.