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Congress Is Still Pulling $174,000 Salaries During the Government Shutdown
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=49873"><span class="small">Mari Uyehara, Yahoo! News</span></a>   
Wednesday, 02 January 2019 14:28

Uyehara writes: "Congress members, who take home much higher salaries than average federal employees, are exempt from withheld pay."

Sen. Mitch McConnell. (photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters)
Sen. Mitch McConnell. (photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters)


Congress Is Still Pulling $174,000 Salaries During the Government Shutdown

By Mari Uyehara, Yahoo! News

02 January 19

 

s 2018 draws to a close, it ends as it began: with another shutdown of the Republican-controlled government over immigration. How fitting that a presidency paved by staged fits over the manufactured threat of non-white immigrants will actually hurt Americans in the end. It’s zero-sum politics with everyone but lawmakers on the losing end.

The first shutdown, on January 20th, was notable for being the first in history that took place while a single party held the House, the Senate, and the -presidency. Then, the shutdown was over the funding of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA); today, it’s over $5 billion in funding for Donald Trump’s racist campaign prop: the U.S.-Mexico border wall. What hasn’t changed is that Republicans have failed, yet again, to carry out the most basic functions of governance.

Yesterday, six days into the shutdown, House members got notice there would be no votes this week, meaning that the shutdown would last into the new year. Capitol Hill was practically a ghost town, with no signs that lawmakers were making an attempt at negotiations. Perhaps, it’s because they have no incentive to do so. Just in time for Christmas, 420,000 federal employees discovered that they would have to work without pay, and an additional 380,000 were furloughed (sent home without pay). The Office of Personnel Management tweeted templates for federal workers to use in negotiating for deferred rent and payments to creditors, including—no joke—offering to paint and do carpentry work “in exchange for partial rent payments.”

Meanwhile, Congress members, who take home much higher salaries than average federal employees, are exempt from withheld pay.

“Next time we have a gov shutdown, Congressional salaries should be furloughed as well,” tweeted Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). “It’s completely unacceptable that members of Congress can force a government shutdown on partisan lines & then have Congressional salaries exempt from that decision. Have some integrity.”

The average Congress member makes makes $174,000 annually (minority and majority leaders make $193,400). And, according to Quartz, the median net worth of representatives is $900,000 and senators is $3.2 million—12 times more than the average American. Many lawmakers have been little sympathetic to federal employees in more precarious financial positions. When Politico reporter Sarah Ferris asked Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) about federal employees going without pay, he answered, "Who’s living that they’re not going to make it to the next paycheck?"

Perhaps he should ask one of the 42,000 Coast Guard members, who are among those working without pay during the shutdown. Their starting annual salary is $20,000 and the average petty officer makes $42,000. Other federal workers shared their anxiety over mortgage payments, auto loans, and insulin costs on Twitter under #shutdownstories.

Since the start of the shutdown, Trump’s approval rating has fallen below 40 percent to the same level it was after he bungled his response to the Charlottesville attacks, with more Americans blaming congressional Republicans (47 percent) than Democrats (33 percent) for the shutdown in the latest Reuters poll. And while Trump’s base might like chanting about walls, the general American public does not, and suburban Republicans have been repelled by the party’s hardline immigration stances.

Meanwhile, Congress is generally insulated from their very own governance. And the callousness and intransigence on the government shutdown mimics that of the healthcare battles—another issue on which Republicans have been obtuse. Congress members, of course, all enjoy very good healthcare benefits. Despite Republican posturing over the supposed evils of government-run-healthcare, they haven’t traded theirs in for free-market policies. Their health and their fortunes, unlike those of the American people, are not tied to the outcomes of their ideology. Ditto the outcome of the financial crisis: While the average American saw their wealth decline after the 2008-2009 meltdown, the average congressional member, like top 20 percent of U.S. households, recovered fairly easily from the crash, continuing to make more money. Not surprising, then, that the Congress, including both Republicans and Democrats, rolled back portions of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law regulating risky behavior of banks.

Just a week ago, it seemed as though there would be no shutdown. The Senate passed a stop-gap funding bill to avert it, with Republicans expecting that Trump would sign it. Then Trump, goosed by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chair of the House Freedom Caucus, and Ann Coulter’s taunts, went on a tear about “drugs” and “crime,” raving that he wouldn’t sign anything without funding specifically allocated for his border wall. Outgoing House Majority Leader Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) then refused a vote on the Senate’s bill, and House Republicans passed one with border-wall funding, which won’t pass in the Senate without Democratic support. The entire song-and-dance is, like the Trump’s wall talk, an exercise in white-supremacist grandstanding: House Republicans are well aware that once the Democrats take over as the majority on Jan. 3 the new appropriations bill will have none of the border wall waste. According to the Daily Beast, the White House is “gleeful” in the belief that a shutdown will hinder Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D–Calif.) agenda when she returns to speakership.

Now, this all despite the fact that there is already a fence along some 650 miles of the border and illegal border crossings have dropped precipitously, by more than half, from the 1980s to the mid-2000s. The administration allocated $1.7 billion during 2017 and 2018 for physical barriers at the border and only 6 percent of those funds was used. All that aside, a wall, as both experts and anyone with half a brain knows, wouldn’t prevent drug smuggling (which mostly goes through legal ports of entry) nor immigration (which typically funnels into legal ports, as well, for refugee claims). But this isn’t really about immigration at large. In one of his last acts as one of the most cowardly House majority leaders in history, Ryan, whose own relatives fled poverty from Ireland in the 1800s, pushed legislation to increase E-3 work visas for Irish nationals.

What Republican lawmakers, chief among them the so-called fiscal conservatives, are asking the American people to fund is one grand monument against brown people—a $5 billion photo op for Trump as rally banner for a racist base. Given that value system, it’s no surprise that the very same politicians would force ordinary working Americans to suffer for a political stunt while making no sacrifices of their own.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 January 2019 15:29
 

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+2 # DongiC 2019-01-02 21:28
In a word the Republicans are pathetic. Why are these jerks still in office?
 
 
0 # tr4302@gmail.com 2019-01-03 08:27
You have to love the hypocrital S**t Heads for raising the bar! They can`t really work fof nothing since the don`t actully
work any time, but this is too much!!