Members Of Congress Opening Wallets During Closed Government

The ongoing partial federal government shutdown could be a boon to some charities. Several members of Congress have pledged their salaries to charities during the shutdown. A member of the U.S. House of Representatives or U.S. Senate typically earns $174,000 per year (which works out to about $725 per day, based on a five-day work week, not counting holidays).

The shutdown affects about one-fourth of the federal government and began on Dec. 22 after President Donald Trump refused to sign a spending bill that did not include $5 billion for a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. About 420,000 federal employees are working without pay while another 380,000 have been furloughed. It doesn’t include employees of vendors contracted to work for the federal government.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who is exploring a 2020 presidential run, pledged her salary to HIAS, a nonprofit that assists refugees. She tweeted on Jan. 1 that more than 7,000 people in her state are currently at home or working without any salary.

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) also tweeted last month that she would donate her salary to a Nevada charity for each day the shutdown lasts but did not specify a particular organization.

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) announced she would donate her salary to food banks in her state’s four counties: Hawaii Food Bank, Maui Food Bank, and Hawaii Food Basket on Hawaii Island. Hirano said she donated her salary to her state’s 14 federally-qualified community health centers during the January 2018 shutdown. During the shutdown in 2013, she donated her salary to Lanakila Pacific, Hawaii Meals on Wheels, Hawaii County Economic Opportunity Council, Kauai Economic Opportunity, and Hale Mahaolu.

Both of North Dakota’s senators have specified charities that will receive their donations. According to the Bismarck Tribune, Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) likely will donate to the North Dakota National Guard Foundation and outgoing Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) pledged to Youthworks. At least one member of Congress called the moves a gimmick.

In a Tweet, Congressman-elect Max Rose (D-N.Y.) said, “…it’s time for us to do our jobs, and until we do I will donate any pay” but did not specify a charity. SILive.com reported that Rose will donate his salary to a New York-based nonprofit that helps individuals dealing with opioid addiction.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) was the latest to pledge his salary, with a statement today that he would give to the Homes for the Brave, a Bridgeport, Conn.-based charity that provides housing and services to people experiencing homelessness, particularly veterans.