North Carolina’s U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers (R) stirred outrage on Thursday when she said in a TV interview that unlike some members of the Republican caucus in Washington, she will not be foregoing her paycheck during the GOP-led shutdown of the federal government. According to Talking Points Memo, Ellmer said that she needs her $170,000 annual salary too much to donate it.
“I need my paycheck. That’s the bottom line,” Ellmers said to Raleigh’s WTVD Channel 11. “I understand that there may be some other members who are deferring their paychecks, and I think that’s admirable. I’m not in that position.”
Ellmers is the Republican politician whose statements about the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — were so off-base and contrary to reality that Hayes had to devote an entire segment on the following night’s show to debunking the lies and explaining “Obamacare for Dummies.”
National law stipulates that the president and members of Congress will still receive their pay during the shutdown, but some lawmakers have opted to donate their salaries rather than continuing to live on government largesse while hundreds of thousands of federal workers are furloughed without pay.
The Washington Post said on Thursday that at least 152 lawmakers have agreed to forego their pay during the shutdown, including members of both parties.
Democrats like Sens. Al Franken (MN), Elizabeth Warren (MA) and Rep. Patrick Murphy (FL) have agreed not to accept their salaries as workers at the CDC, the Social Security Administration and other federal agencies go unpaid. Republican Sens. Lindsay Graham (SC), Orrin Hatch (UT) and Reps. Phil Gingrey (GA) and Eric Cantor (VA) have now jumped on to the bandwagon as well.
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) said on his campaign Facebook page that he would forego his salary in the event of a shutdown. “I hope you will ask Senator Ted Cruz why he refuses to give up his pay during a shutdown he pushed for,” he said.
Cruz — who is independently wealthy — has since agreed not to accept his Senate pay.
UPDATE: Ellmers has taken to Facebook to share a letter she sent to the Chief Administrative Officer of the House Dan Strodel saying she has only just learned that she is going to keep getting paid through the shutdown. She asked the office to hold her pay for her until the crisis is over.
Watch the interview, embedded below via WTVD: