President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress continue to get paid even though their inability to fund the government caused the third shutdown in a year.
That’s because the Constitution requires it, according to the National Constitution Center. Congress, the president and the Supreme Court all receive “a compensation” that cannot be raised or lowered during their time in office.
“It is stunning, frankly,” said Paul Shearon, president of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, whose members are not getting paid during the shutdown. “How out of line it is for the president and Congress to pick up a paycheck.”
The union represents a wide swath of federal employees, including immigration judges and rocket scientists, all of whom are not being paid. (It also represents about 13,000 state workers in New Jersey.)
“These are the folks who earn every dime that they make,” Shearon said. “We’re able to keep this federal government running despite the ineptitude by the folks at the top.”
While most of the federal government is funded through Sept. 30, several agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, had been operating under a temporary spending bill that expired Dec. 21.
Trump refused to sign legislation keeping the rest of the government open unless it included $5 billion for the southern border wall that he promised Mexico, not American taxpayers, would pay for. But there is not enough support in Congress for the barrier.
About 800,000 federal employees are affected by the shutdown, with 420,000 working without pay and 380,000 told to stay home, according to Senate Appropriation Committee Democrats.
Those employees required to work, such as the Coast Guard and Border Patrol, will receive back pay. Traditionally, Congress also has agreed to pay the salaries of those furloughed but is not required to do so.
The federal employees can expect to go without pay for another week; no legislation on reopening the government is expected until next Thursday when the 116th Congress convenes.
Incoming House Rules Committee chairman, Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said the new Democratic-controlled House then would vote to reopen the government.
“Federal workers should not be held hostage by the president’s demand for a useless and offensive border wall that he promised Mexico would pay for,” McGovern said.