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Beltway blues: Chicago-area congressmen turn down their pay

Oct 3, 2013
In The News

The big budget standoff continues in Washington, but there is some news out of the Beltway: The number of local congressmen who aren't accepting pay until the fight is over is now at four.

As of the moment, two Democrats and two Republicans from the Chicago area have put out statements or otherwise confirmed that they'll do without while much of the federal government remains shut in a fight over Obamacare and related matters.

"Because some Republicans in Congress continue to hold fast to a narrow ideology they knew would force a shutdown, Congress is not doing its job," said Democrat Brad Schneider of Deerfield. "Therefore, I will be returning my paycheck until Congress does the responsible thing."

Ditto Peter Roskam, R-Wheaton. "I am listening to my constituents and working with my colleagues to find common-sense solutions to restore government operations," he said in a letter to the House pay master. "Until the government shutdown is resolved, I request that my pay be withheld."

Another Republican, Randy Hultgren, R-Wheaton, "asked the House to revoke my salary." In a statement, he said his office remains open "with a skeletal staff to respond to urgent constituent needs," and blamed the Senate for the stalemate. "We are fighting to protect hardworking families and small businesses from unintended consequences of the president's health care law."

Democrat Bill Foster of Naperville is doing them one better. He's accepting his pay but donating it to the Northern Illinois Food Bank for the duration — meaning that he's out the money for good but will be entitled to a charitable deduction.

That's the extent of my list for now. But don't be surprised at all if it grows.

Meanwhile, the House GOP's campaign wing is accusing Mr. Schneider of flip-flopping amid the hostilities.

Mr. Schneider voted against a GOP plan to fund the government but delay for a year the beginning of Obamacare's mandate that individuals purchase insurance or pay a fine. But the Republicans note that last summer, he voted for a separate bill that would have done just that.

Asked to explain, Mr. Schneider says in a statement, "While I support making improvements in the Affordable Care Act, trying to enact them while holding the government and our economic recovery hostage is reckless and irresponsible."

Got that?