Most local lawmakers foregoing paychecks during partial shutdown

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Congresswoman Elise Stefanik09423090-159532

WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 12: Congresswoman Elise Stefanik speaks onstage during Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit – Day 1 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on October 12, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fortune/Time Inc)

US Reps. Peter Welch of Vermont and Elise Stefanik of New York, along with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are joining hundreds of thousands of federal employees who won’t be paid Friday as the partial government shutdown grinds on.

Within hours of the start of the shutdown, on December 22, Stefanik, a Republican who represents New York’s 21st congressional district, asked that her pay be withheld in a letter to Phil Kiko, Chief Administrative Officer of the the US House of Representatives.

Welch sent Kiko a similar note on January 3, asking that his pay be suspended for the duration of the shutdown, which is approaching its fourth week.

Dan McLean, a Sanders spokesperson, released a statement from the Vermont senator: “During the time that federal employees do not receive a paycheck, I will be donating my U.S. Senate salary to Vermont charities.”

One elected official who will continue to collect his government pay is Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

David Carle, a Leahy spokesman, said committee staff “have been working nonstop including through the holidays to overcome the President’s insistence on a shutdown.”

Carle said “no one has been working and fighting harder” than Leahy to end the impasse between Trump and congressional Democrats, which centers on the president’s demand for $5 billion for border wall. He added that Leahy is the cosponsor of a bill that will ensure federal workers who have been furloughed or forced to work without pay during “the Trump shutdown” will receive back pay.

On Wednesday, the House passed a bill that would reopen more than 20 federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, the Small Business Administration, Federal Communications Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Stefanik was among the eight House Republicans who joined every Democrat in approving the measure, which the White House has said Trump would veto. 

The shutdown affects more than 420,000 employees who are on unpaid furlough and 380,000 “essential” bureaucrats working without pay. 

In a floor statement Thursday, Leahy blasted Trump for claiming federal workers are “willing” to sacrifice their livelihood to support the president’s demand for border wall funding. He said dozens of Vermonters have called his office to share stories of hardship, and are demanding the president and Republicans end the shutdown. 

“These families are trying to figure out how they will make ends meet, how they will pay their mortgage or heating bills, or, god forbid, whether or not they can afford both food for their table and medicine for their children next week,” Leahy said.

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