Most Congresspeople Who Promised To Donate or Withhold Their Salaries Actually Did it
Our legislative branch may have failed at keeping the government open last year, but most of the senators and representatives who promised to give their salaries during the government shutdown back did just that.
Our legislative branch may have failed at keeping the government open last year, but it turns out that most of the senators and representatives who promised to withhold or give their shutdown salaries back did just that.
According to the Washington Post's research, of the 237 (or 244 -- the Post has both numbers in its articles) lawmakers who made the promise, nearly 150 of them have either given their salaries to charity, refused to accept them until the government re-opened, or gave them back to the Treasury. And that number could increase -- some legislators who didn't get back to the Post in time for the article did so after it published, so the Post has been updating its list accordingly.
Nearly $500,000 was donated to various charities and $87,400 was returned to the treasury, though some of charity recipients interviewed seemed to have preferred that the government hadn't been shut down at all. Others were just happy to get the money, with one woman who runs a charity for abused children noting that it would "help a lot of kids."
About 80 lawmakers didn't respond to the Post, 60 of which were Republican. Two of the non-respondents were Representatives Rene Ellmers and Lee Terry, both of whom supported the shutdown but said they needed their paychecks. After some outcry, they said they would withhold their pay until the shutdown ended. By contrast, another big shutdown supporter, Ted Cruz, donated 16 days' pay to a charter school system.
While it is nice (and exceedingly rare) to see so many lawmakers keep their promises, it should be pointed out that for many of these people, giving up or temporarily withholding their salaries wasn't exactly a huge sacrifice -- the majority of congresspeople are millionaires. And there are 534 people in the Senate and the House, so while the majority of them kept their promise, another 300 of them never made the promise in the first place.
The shutdown was estimated to have cost the US economy about $24 billion.