WASHINGTON — Under relentless attacks from Ohio Republicans for helping to block a vote on a bill that would have kept the federal government open, Sen. Sherrod Brown said he would donate his paycheck during the shutdown to an Ohio diaper bank that helps low-income families.
Brown, D-Ohio, announced the move in a statement Saturday during the first full day of a partial shutdown of the federal government.
Senate Republicans on Friday night could not muster 60 votes to force a floor on a bill that would have kept the government open for the next four weeks and extend a children’s health program that provides coverage to nearly 220,000 low-income Ohio children for the next six years. Democrats have insisted that any spending measure provide legal protections for the children of undocumented immigrants, a program known as the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals, or DACA.
Even though Brown is a supporter of the insurance program - the Children’s Health Insurance Program known as CHIP - he sided with 43 other Senate Democrats to block passage of the temporary spending bill.
Senate Republican candidates Jim Renacci and Mike Gibbons assailed Brown. Blaine Kelly, a spokesman for the Ohio Republican Party, quipped “that’s the least he can do after flip-flopping on CHIP and putting the health insurance of a quarter-million Ohio children at risk.”
Earlier in the week in a conference call with Ohio reporters, Brown indicated he would support a separate vote on DACA instead of tying it to the spending bill.
Brown was not the only Ohio lawmaker to announce Saturday his plans to give up pay during the shutdown. Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington, wrote a letter to House Chief Administrative Officer Philip Kiko requesting his pay be held until the government re-opens.
“I have fought to keep the government funded and am disappointed about the government shutdown,” Stivers wrote. “I will continue to work to find a government funding compromise. However, it is unacceptable that Members of Congress receive a paycheck while the government is closed.”
Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, also tweeted that he was sending a similar letter.
If the Senate does not agree to a spending bill Sunday, hundreds of thousands of federal workers - including as many as 13,000 civilian workers at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton - would face a furlough.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill, however, would continue to be paid. In addition to Brown, Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green, asked that his pay be withheld during the shutdown. Latta voted for the bill that passed the House Thursday to keep the government open and extend CHIP.
Mail will still get delivered, the post offices will remain open, the Army, Navy and Air Force operate as usual, and Americans receive their Social Security checks. Medicare and Medicaid continue to function.