Should congress be paid during shutdown?

October 3, 2013 7:00:35 AM PDT
The government shutdown triggered the furlough of more than 800,000 federal workers, but members of Congress continue to get paid. Some say that's not fair.

ABC11 asked the North Carolina congressional delegation about whether they would defer their salaries during the shutdown.

The average congressional salary is $3,300 a week, which comes to $174,000 a year. Despite the government shutdown, those checks continue to clear.

It's in the constitution. The 27th Amendment states no law changing congressional compensation may take effect until an election in the House of Representatives. Nevertheless, many lawmakers have announced they will decline their salaries as long as the shutdown forces the layoffs of thousands of federal workers.

ABC11 spoke to Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers, and Democratic Rep. G.K. Butterfield. Both of them said blame for the shutdown lies on the other side of the aisle, and neither is going to decline their pay.

"The thing is I need my paycheck. That's the bottom line and I understand that maybe there are members who are deferring their paychecks and that's admirable," said Ellmers. "I'm not in that position."

"I don't think there should be a shutdown. I think every American should get paid for his or her labor," said Butterfield. That includes members of Congress. I didn't create the shutdown."

ABC11 reached out to North Carolina Senators Kay Hagan and Richard Burr Wednesday. Burr did not have staff available to answer our questions due the shutdown. Senator Hagan's office said she plans to donate her pay for the duration of the shutdown.

Minnesota Rep. Rick Nolan introduced a bill Tuesday that would stop members from being paid as long as the shutdown continues, but the bill may violate the 27th amendment.

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