Some Ga. congressmen forgo paychecks during shutdown

IRS employee Donna Orton, center, holds a sign protesting the government shutdown at the James V. Hansen Federal Building on Jan. 10, 2019 in Ogden, Utah. (Photo by Natalie Behring/Getty Images)
IRS employee Donna Orton, center, holds a sign protesting the government shutdown at the James V. Hansen Federal Building on Jan. 10, 2019 in Ogden, Utah. (Photo by Natalie Behring/Getty Images)

Credit: Natalie Behring

Credit: Natalie Behring

With an estimated 16,000 federal employees in Georgia missing their last paycheck due to the government shutdown, several Georgia congressmen are deferring their own salaries as the record-breaking standoff stretches into a fourth week.

Five of the state's U.S. House members – Republicans Buddy Carter of Pooler, Rob Woodall of Lawrenceville, Austin Scott of Tifton, Doug Collins of Gainesville and Rick Allen of Evans – and U.S. Sen. David Perdue said they requested their salaries be withheld. They joined more than 70 of their Capitol Hill colleagues who have delayed their paychecks until an agreement to reopen the government is struck, according to a tally from CNN.

"If the hardworking federal employees in the First District of Georgia aren't receiving a paycheck, I won't either," said Carter, who recently started his third term in Congress.

 

The gesture is largely a symbolic one.

Five of the state's 16 members of Congress have net worths of more than $1 million, according to Roll Call.

And the lawmakers will receive their paychecks eventually because the Constitution’s 27th Amendment bars members of Congress from refusing their $174,000 annual salaries outright.

They could ultimately choose to donate the money, which a spokesman for Allen said he'd do at the conclusion of the shutdown. (Four of the Georgia delegation's 16 lawmakers ultimately gave their pay to charity after the 16-day shutdown of 2013.)

Three other Georgia lawmakers, including Republican U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson and Congressmen Jody Hice, R-Monroe, and Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, have continued to collect their paychecks during the shutdown. Spokesmen for several highlighted legislation their bosses supported that would prevent future shutdowns or immediately pay federal employees who were working through the funding lapse.

“All federal employees currently working should be being paid for their work as scheduled,” said Hice.

Every member of the delegation supported a bill last week guaranteeing back pay to federal workers once the government is reopened.

Georgia is beginning to feel the pinch of the border wall showdown as the fight reaches its 25th day, from long lines at the Atlanta airport to furloughed immigration judges and closed facilities at the state's national parks. Roughly one-quarter of federal workers – an estimated 800,000 people – missed their first paychecks on Friday since the funding lapse began on Dec. 22.

Throughout the fight, the state's members of Congress have dug in, voicing support for their respective parties and pointing fingers at the other side as negotiations between President Donald Trump and Democratic leaders have screeched to a halt.

The offices of U.S. Reps. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany; Drew Ferguson, R-West Point; John Lewis, D-Atlanta; Lucy McBath, D-Marietta; Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville; David Scott, D-Atlanta; and Tom Graves, R-Ranger, either declined to comment or did not respond to emails about their bosses’ paycheck plans.

Read more about the local impact of the shutdown: 

ExploreGeorgia feels impact from partial federal shutdown
ExploreLong security lines plague Hartsfield-Jackson amid federal shutdown
ExploreImmigration courts in Atlanta and across the nation slowed by government shutdown
ExploreGeorgia unemployment claims soar for federal workers during shutdown
ExploreSearch for wall funds could hit Georgia projects
Explore‘There’s all this stress.’ Federal workers navigate longest shutdown
ExploreGeorgia congressmen hold party lines on border fight
ExploreUSDA clears February food stamp disbursement for 1.5 million Georgians
ExploreGovernment shutdown: Employers confused by loss of background check
ExploreFederal courts feel pinch from ongoing government shutdown

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