If the government does shut down on Oct. 1, a great number of the federal government’s employees will be able to claim unemployment. All will receive back pay when it’s over.
However, many will face having their pay withheld until the end of the shutdown.
In a letter to the chief administrative officer of the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Gaetz asked that his paycheck be suspended if a government shutdown actually happens.
Gaetz has been one of the strongest opponents of several appropriations bills that have been sent to the House, arguing that Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy needs to make deeper cuts.
This is especially true in the case of funding for Ukraine.
Gaetz has been one of the most vocal critics regarding a seemingly limitless amount of money and resources being sent to the government in Kyiv by President Joe Biden’s administration, Democrats who control the Senate and some Republicans in the House, according to the Daily Caller.
Thus, he’s willing to go without pay to make a point.
“It is my understanding that pursuant to the Constitution, members of Congress will continue to receive their pay during a lapse in appropriations,” Gaetz wrote in the Tuesday letter to Chief Administrative Officer Catherine Szpindor.
“Therefore, I am requesting that in the case of a lapse of appropriations beginning at 12:00 a.m. on October 1, 2023, my pay be withheld until legislation has taken effect to end such lapse in appropriations in its entirety,” Gaetz continued.
In the event of a government shutdown on October 1st, I have asked the Chief Administrative Officer of the House to withhold my pay until legislation has taken effect to end the lapse in appropriations. https://t.co/vgnQfEeaR2 https://t.co/c5YyAcS0BG pic.twitter.com/MqwMSn4XHf
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) September 26, 2023
Unfortunately, this may be more of a gesture than anything else, and not just because Gaetz isn’t exactly broke. (The product of a wealthy political family in Florida’s Panhandle, Gaetz reported personal assets worth between $235,000 and $625,000 in 2021, according to a Forbes report.)
Even if he were to be living hand-to-mouth, an expert at the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., said that the rules are quite clear on preventing lawmakers like Gaetz from exempting himself from receiving their salaries.
“While this seems like a nice gesture, under Comptroller Decisions, Members are not allowed to decline all or part of their salaries,” Matt Glassman of the Georgetown GAI wrote on social media after the Gaetz letter went public Tuesday.
“House precedents (VI Cannon § 203) specifically address this: ‘Payment of salaries of Members at any other rate than that fixed by law is not authorized..'”
House precedents (VI Cannon § 203) specifically address this:
“Payment of salaries of Members at any other rate than that fixed by law is not authorized.” 2/
— Matt Glassman (@MattGlassman312) September 26, 2023
“In addition, there’s a long history of Comptroller General decisions related to declining salaries,” he continued.
“A decision from 1925 advising the House Sergeant at Arms (A-8427) stated: ‘You may only make payment of salary at the rate fixed by law. A declining to receive payment of salary at the rate fixed by law or the difference in the amount between the old or the new rate of the salary does not necessarily affect the right thereto, nor as a general rule preclude the individual or his legal representatives from subsequently making a claim as for the unpaid salary. The accounts of the government are entitled to be kept and payments made so that the transactions will appear therefrom as closed, and if one does not for personal reasons wish to retain the whole amount which the law provides he shall be paid, he his free to remit back to the United States such amount as he does not which to retain with a statement of his reasons therefor.’
“This was affirmed by decisions and advisory opinions in 1955, 1975, and 1988,” Glassman continued.
This was affirmed in decisions and advisory opinions in 1955, 1975, and 1988. 4/ pic.twitter.com/g8pPvpJayg
— Matt Glassman (@MattGlassman312) September 26, 2023
Nevertheless, even if he can’t actually refuse his salary, Gaetz’s move met with praise from supporters on social media:
Every member of the House and Senate should make the same pledge.
— Jason Robertson (@JRobFromMN) September 26, 2023
What about the @SpeakerMcCarthy and other members of Congress? They should all refrain from taking their salaries. I don’t think you should be the only one!
— America First MAGA – Deplorable E Young (@YoungDeplorable) September 26, 2023
Thank you Matt Gaetz. We can’t keep saying “this is how it’s always been”. We need change. thank you for fighting for my kids and my grandchildren and my country. If these people worked in the private sector, they would’ve been fired a long time ago for not doing their job.
— zeldaf1920 (@zeldaf19201) September 26, 2023
As for the latest, the Senate voted 77-19 on Tuesday to approve on a bipartisan continuing resolution that would keep the government funded until Nov. 17, according to The Hill.
This doesn’t solve the problems House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has been having getting appropriations bills passed or forging a bipartisan consensus in the lower chamber on a longer-term solution, but it’s something that signals that the shutdown may be averted come Oct. 1 — even if it’s just kicking the can down the road.
If a larger crisis looms, let’s hope Gaetz — and some other Republicans — can come up with a creative way to get around House precedent and make this happen. If government isn’t doing its job, it shouldn’t be getting paid.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.