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Rose: If fed workers don’t get paid, neither should Congress

As House and Senate members engage in delicate negotiations to prevent another government shutdown, U.S. Rep. Max Rose is busy pushing for legislation to spread the pain around in the event another one occurs.

Rose, a Democrat who represents Bay Ridge and several neighborhoods in Southwest Brooklyn, as well as Staten Island, is one of three House members introducing a bill to prevent members of Congress from getting their paychecks during government shutdowns if federal workers aren’t being paid.

During the recent 35-day shutdown, House and Senate members still collected their paychecks while workers in several federal agencies went without.

“Only in a town as broken as Washington do you still get paid when you don’t do your job,” Rose said. “That’s wrong, and it’s past time to make it right.”

The bill Rose is introducing in partnership with U.S. Reps. Jared Golden, a Democrat from Maine, and Dan Crenshaw, a Republican from Texas, is called the Solidarity in Salary Act of 2019.

The legislation seeks to withhold pay from members of Congress, the president and the vice president during a government shutdown. The idea behind the legislation, according to Rose’s office, is to limit the duration of future shutdowns and make lawmakers feel a financial pinch when they fail in their duty to fund the government.

“When a congressional impasse causes federal employees to go unpaid, members of Congress should have to withhold their pay. We should have to feel the very real effects of a shutdown, just as our fellow federal employees are forced to do,” Crenshaw said.

Under the bill, the pay of the president, vice president, and members of Congress would be placed in escrow for each day a government shutdown is in effect. The money would be released when the government reopens.

Rose announced at the start of the shutdown that he planned to go without a salary to stand in solidarity with federal workers. The pay will be donated to a charity that assists patients addicted to opioids, his office confirmed.

The shutdown caused 380,000 federal workers to be furloughed. Another 450,000 employees were forced to work because their jobs are considered essential. But they went without pay. There are more than 50,000 federal workers in New York, including 16,000 employed in agencies that were closed due to the shutdown.

“This legislation will help prevent the American people from being political pawns for party leaders and help return sanity to the task of funding the government,” Golden said of the Solidarity in Salary Act.

President Donald Trump, whose demands for funds to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border helped initiate the shutdown, announced a three-week suspension of the shutdown to allow House and Senate leaders to negotiate a bill to fund the government.

The negotiations are being conducted by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. The congressmembers have until Feb. 15 to reach an agreement or risk another shutdown.

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