The federal government’s shutdown, or at least whether House members should accept their pay while it lasts, has become an issue in the Democrat-on-Democrat battle for California’s 17th Congressional District.
Former Obama administration official Ro Khanna of Fremont informed the media Thursday that he’d sent a letter to Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, urging him to refuse his salary for the duration of the shutdown.
About 100 members of Congress – including Reps. Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton; Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova; John Garamendi, D-Fairfield; and Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, as well as Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein – have said either they won’t accept their pay or they’ll donate it to charity.
“There ought to be consequences for Congress’s inability to do its job. Members ought to be accountable to the taxpayers who pay their salaries,” Khanna wrote to Honda, noting California voters approved a 2010 ballot measure to deny state lawmakers their pay if they fail to pass a budget.
Refusing to accept a salary or pension contributions during the shutdown “would be a show of good faith to your constituents here in the 17th District who expect better from Congress and their own representative,” Khanna wrote.
Honda had issued a statement Wednesday saying “the next pay period for House members and staff is October 31st, and I will continue doing the work that the people of the 17th district sent me to Washington to do. Right now I am working with my colleagues in both parties to end this Tea Party-caused budget crisis.”
Asked Thursday whether Honda will accept that Oct. 31 paycheck in full or reject or forfeit some or all of it due to the shutdown, spokesman Anthony Kusich replied, “He’s taking his paycheck.”
UPDATE @ 6:25 P.M.: A commenter raises an interesting point: By saying Honda should forfeit his pay as a consequence of “Congress’ inability to do its job,” is Khanna blasting Honda for not compromising with Republicans who want to defund or delay Obamacare?
Khanna campaign spokesman Tyler Law declined to comment this evening. But I see from Khanna’s website that he believes “(e)veryone deserves access to healthcare. That is why I was a strong supporter of President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. That law already is expanding healthcare services to the vast majority of Americans. We need to keep moving forward, however, until care is universally available, with a higher assurance of quality and with more control on costs.”
So one can assume Khanna doesn’t disagree with Honda’s refusal to accede to GOP demands to gut or repeal the law. It’s also worth nothing that several local lawmakers who agreed to reject or donate their pay during the shutdown – including Swalwell, Garamendi, Boxer and Feinstein – are staunch Obamacare defenders, too.