Democrat Taunts GOP Leader With Bill To Block Lawmaker Pay During Government Shutdown

Rep. Angie Craig’s MCCARTHY Shutdown Act would make sure lawmakers don’t get paid if the federal government closes due to a spending fight.

Someone in the congressional office of Rep. Angie Craig is having fun with acronyms.

On Wednesday, the Minnesota Democrat unveiled a bill taking aim at House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as the federal government nears a shutdown at the end of the month. Party in-fighting has left the Republican leader struggling to pass a spending plan to fund government services.

Craig’s bill would block members of Congress from receiving their scheduled pay if the government shuts down and federal workers are furloughed. She is calling the legislation the My Constituents Cannot Afford Rebellious Tantrums, Handle Your Shutdown Act, or the MCCARTHY Shutdown Act for short.

The Democrat said her tribute to the House speaker, if passed, would make sure lawmakers experience the same lost paychecks as regular Americans.

“Speaker McCarthy and House Republicans are ready to shut down the federal government and put the livelihoods of working families at risk — while still collecting a paycheck,” Craig said in a statement. “[I]t’s ridiculous that we still get paid while folks like TSA workers are asked to work without a paycheck.”

According to the bill text, lawmakers’ pay during the shutdown period would be held in escrow until the final day of the session, when it would be released for payment so as not to violate the law prescribing congressional salaries.

Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.) said Republicans deserve the blame if the government shuts down.
Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.) said Republicans deserve the blame if the government shuts down.
Bill Clark via Getty Images

Federal workers who are furloughed generally do not receive pay while the government is shut down. In the past, Congress has stepped in and passed legislation retroactively to make workers whole for the wages they lost, but the missing pay can lead to financial anxieties and hardships while the shutdown persists.

The last shutdown — dubbed a partial shutdown, since certain agencies remained open — was the longest in U.S. history, lasting 35 days from late 2018 into early 2019. The impasse stemmed from then-President Donald Trump’s demand for federal money to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

During that saga, more than 100 lawmakers pledged to refuse their paychecks since the shutdown was the fault of Congress and the White House. Such proposals stretch back to at least to 2013, when some members moved to cut off Congressional salaries during a spending impasse.

This time, right-wing lawmakers are trying to pressure McCarthy into demanding spending cuts that would run counter to an agreement he made with President Joe Biden. They have threatened to oust McCarthy as speak if he doesn’t follow through.

“[I]t’s ridiculous that we still get paid while folks like TSA workers are asked to work without a paycheck.”

- Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.)

Hardliners even managed to torpedo a bill to fund the Pentagon, which is typically among the easiest to get GOP members behind.

McCarthy can lose no more than four Republican votes to get legislation passed, and it would need to be something that can clear the Senate, where Democrats hold a threadbare majority.

“I want to make sure we don’t shut down,” McCarthy told Fox News over the weekend. “I don’t think that is a win for the American public and I definitely believe it’ll make our hand weaker if we shut down.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday that both chambers were being pushed around by “a small band of hard-right Republicans.”

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