WASHINGTON — At least half of Ohio’s congressional delegation say they will not accept a paycheck while the federal government is under a partial shutdown.
On a conference call with Ohio reporters Tuesday, Sen. Rob Portman said he “won’t be accepting my pay during the shutdown.”
The Republican said President Donald Trump and Congress need to continue negotiating because they’re not that far apart in being able to end the shutdown.
Later Tuesday, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, announced he will forgo his pay while the government is shut down.
“He is calling on President Trump and Mitch McConnell to reopen the government immediately so these Americans can get back to work earning a paycheck and serving the public,” said Brown’s spokeswoman, Jenny Donohue.
Brown is set to introduce legislation to secure back pay for government contract employees who have gone without pay during the shutdown. Contractors generally don’t receive back pay. He also is expected to join Senate colleagues in a letter calling on the administration to direct agencies to ensure government contractors receive back pay.
Among House members, Democrat Rep. Joyce Beatty of Jefferson Township is joining GOP Reps. Anthony Gonzalez of Rocky River, Warren Davidson of Troy, Bob Latta of Bowling Green, Bob Gibbs of Lakeville and Dave Joyce of Geauga County in saying they won’t accept a paycheck during the shutdown.
“While I hope we can soon pass an appropriations bill that opens the government and secures our border, members of Congress should not be receiving their paychecks while other federal workers are not receiving theirs,” said Latta, who cosponsored a proposed Constitutional amendment keeping from members of Congress from receiving pay during a government shutdown.
Instead, Beatty, through a spokesman, said she plans to donate her salary to nonprofits. Details are being worked out, the spokesman said.
Gonzalez said he’ll donate his pay to northeast Ohio nonprofits supporting survivors of human trafficking, rape, domestic abuse and addictions. While he wasn’t in Congress when the shutdown started, the former Ohio State football player said, “I cannot sit by and collect a paycheck while some of my constituents are furloughed, and congressional leadership shouldn’t either.”
Joyce was one of the first to give up his check, saying in a tweet “If Congress can’t keep the government fully operational, we shouldn’t get paid. It’s that simple.” He wrote a letter to the House on Dec. 22 asking for his pay to be withheld.
Gibbs, meanwhile, will go without pay as long as essential employees of government agencies are doing so, according to a spokesman. Essential employees include federal law enforcement and border patrol agents, who are required to work without pay during a shutdown. Gibbs planned to introduce a bill late Tuesday that would provide for essential employees to be paid regardless.
Latta, on Facebook, wrote, “Members of Congress shouldn’t be receiving their paycheck while others, including our border patrol agents, are not receiving theirs. I have asked the chief administrative officer to withhold my pay during this partial shutdown.”
Other members will continue to receive a paycheck. Reps. Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington, and Tim Ryan, D-Niles, confirmed they would not stop their pay.
“Rep. Ryan doesn’t believe any federal employees should have their paychecks held hostage for a $5 billion vanity project for Donald Trump,” said Ryan’s spokesman, Michael Zetts. “He is focused on reopening the government and ensuring every employee receives back pay, not political face-saving maneuvers.”
Trump was giving a nationally televised address Tuesday night on the shutdown and his request for a border wall. Before Trump spoke, Reps. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, and Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, two key Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee, said they do not think the president should use military construction dollars to pay for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I am opposed to using defense dollars for anything else,” Thornberry said.
Turner expressed concern that money allocated for improvements at Wright Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton could be taken away.
“Having fought to secure the $182 million expansion … I am, of course, opposed to any of these funds being used for border security,” Turner said. “Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer should end this shutdown and fully fund our border security.”