While thousands of federal workers across the state and nation are furloughed during the government shutdown, 16 members of the Texas congressional delegation say they won’t accept federal paychecks.
“Mothers and fathers who commit themselves to public service are going to have to figure out how to put food on the table, make rent or pay their mortgage — all because a reckless few refuse to compromise,” U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, said in a statement.
Gallego, who said he plans to donate his pay to charity, is among a number of lawmakers and organizations calling on members of Congress to forgo their pay during the shutdown.
The shutdown, which began at midnight Tuesday, stemmed from a standoff in Congress: Republicans wanted a budget deal that defunded the Affordable Care Act or delayed its implementation; Democrats wouldn't budge.
Gallego filed a bill Saturday that would declare members of Congress “nonessential” employees during a government shutdown, which would mean they would not be paid. U.S. Rep. William Enyart, D-Ill., co-sponsored the bill, and U.S. Rep. Richard Nolan, D-Minn., filed a similar bill Monday.
Across the nation, other members of Congress are also declining their pay or donating it to charity during the shutdown.
Courage Campaign, a nonprofit human rights advocacy organization based in California, created an online petition demanding that members of Congress give up their pay during the shutdown. About 800 people had signed onto it by Tuesday afternoon.
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, said he already gives part of his salary to charity and won’t be changing that during the shutdown. He said he urges other members of Congress to practice the same giving.
“During this shutdown, I will provide support for high school scholarships,” Cuellar said in a statement. “I hope my colleagues show the same type of long-term commitment to the community and do not just give during this government shutdown.”
The Texas Tribune contacted all Texas members of Congress on Tuesday and asked whether they would accept pay during the shutdown. Seventeen responded, and all said they would decline their pay expect for Cuellar.
The following legislators are declining pay either by putting it on hold or donating it to charity: U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and U.S. Reps. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio; Bill Flores, R-Bryan; Gallego, D-Alpine; Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth; Al Green, D-Houston; Gene Green, D-Houston; Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas; Randy Neugebauer, R-Lubbock; Pete Olson, R-Sugar Land; Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso; Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio; Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville; Randy Weber, R-Pearland; and Roger Williams, R-Austin.