Senator Ben Nelson frustrates the political left more than President Obama — which is a lot (lately). That said, Senator Nelson is doing exactly the right thing and refusing his pay during the likely government shut down.
Why is this important? As Foreign Policy magazine commentator Josh Rogin pointed out at “The Cable,” Members of Congress will continue to be paid during a government shutdown while their scheduling assistants, and chiefs of staff, and IT operators, and legislative correspondents — who deal with more than most others in the office — and constituency support staff, as well as the janitors, elevator operators, clerks, restaurant staff, and just about everyone else will be ‘volunteering’ their time should they decide to keep any portion of the government’s heart beating.
Rogin also learned that U.S. soldiers will not be paid. This gives ‘cease fire’ a whole new dimension.
Federal employees can’t even use their blackberries. Washington, DC’s trash collection will not take place — so if you have a spare bag or two, you might find the home of a favorite House Member or Senator and share your uncollected waste.
But big kudos to Senator Nelson for doing the right thing — and saying that while Congress postures and pontificates and goes derelict on its responsibilities — he’ll stand with the regular folks whose lives are upended by this stunt and not take a paycheck.
Here is Senator Ben Nelson’s statement:
NELSON WON’T ACCEPT PAY IF GOVERNMENT SHUTS DOWN
Not Appropriate When Nebraskans Will Feel Hardship from Closure
April 7, 2011 – Today, Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson said that because the fast-approaching government shutdown will cause hardship for Nebraskans and the economy, he won’t accept a salary if a shutdown occurs.
“Washington hasn’t passed a budget for months and now we’re likely to see a government shutdown that will cause hardship for Nebraska families and businesses, jobs and economic growth,” said Senator Nelson. “It’s frustrating that a common sense solution has been blocked by partisan games and political agendas.
“My view is that Congress cannot force a shut down that stops tax returns, delays passport processing and road construction, and jeopardizes pay for our troops, while members of Congress are paid in full.
“My offices will close. I won’t accept a Senate salary during a shut down. If retroactive pay is later approved, I’ll direct my part to the U.S. Treasury,” said Nelson.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve Nebraskans in the Senate and I don’t think it’s appropriate to be paid when many Nebraskans will feel the consequences of Washington failing to do its job.”
Other Senators and House Members should follow suit.
And it would be quite a statement — and probably popular — if President Obama did the same.
— Steve Clemons