By MATT BROWN
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
North Coast lawmakers are continuing to be paid during the federal government shutdown despite a growing list of members of Congress who said they will voluntarily forgo their salaries while government workers are furloughed.
Democratic Representatives Mike Thompson of St. Helena and Jared Huffman of San Rafael, who earn annual salaries of $174,000, will continue to draw their paychecks, staff members said Wednesday as the shutdown entered a second day with no end in sight.
A Washington Post tally found 108 lawmakers — 56 Republicans and 52 Democrats — had announced that they would donate or refuse compensation during the impasse, as of Wednesday evening.
Asked if Huffman would give up his paycheck during the shutdown, spokesman Paul Arden referred to a statement released Wednesday in which Huffman blamed the Tea Party for bringing the government to a halt.
“I’m focused on the immediate impacts of the GOP government shutdown — on how to end it quickly, and on making sure the innocent federal employees who are being impacted are made whole,” Huffman said. “No one should lose pay because of this reckless political stunt, except perhaps the Tea Party extremists who orchestrated it.”
Lawmakers were on the floor of Congress on Wednesday evening and unavailable for further comment. Congressional staffers are deemed essential employees and are staying at their posts during the shutdown.
Spokesman Austin Vevurka said Thompson would not give up his pay.
“Rep. Thompson is doing the job his constituents elected him to do — fighting for the district by working to keep the government open and making sure folks can get affordable health insurance,” Vevurka said.