CA17: Khanna dings Honda for shutdown pay

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.

Ro KhannaFormer 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.jpgHonda 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.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • SLtalk

    ““There ought to be consequences for Congress’s inability to do its job.”

    Does this mean that, in Khanna’s view, there should be consequences to Mike Honda’s decision to stand firm and support Obamacare and he should be personally punished for not compromising with the Republicans and giving them what they want? In other words, he believes that Honda should self-punish himself for doing what the voters want him to do. For, Mr. Khanna, let me assure you that voters don’t want Mike Honda to compromise.

    Now, I realize that this is nothing more than a cheap political stunt that Khanna hopes will give him a few votes. But it’s really unworthy of him. I’ve written before about how I saw Khanna as a stateman-in-the-making, but this gimmick makes me think twice about that.

    Truth be told, forgoing the salary wouldn’t make a difference for many members of Congress, including most of the ones listed above, who seem to have substantial assets. But what about the few members of Congress who are not rich or who don’t have spouses in plum jobs that can pay the bills? Do we really want to force them to have to chose between putting bread on the table and betraying their constituencies? And do we want to create a system where only the wealthy – or those hoping to get wealthy while in office – run for Congress?

  • RRSenileColumnist

    Ro should donate an amount equal to Honda’s salary to social service charities if he feels so strongly about it. Otherwise, Ro, sit on it.

  • SLtalk

    Let me clarify that I don’t believe that Khanna opposes Obamacare. What I do believe is that his campaign team figured they could score some points by making Honda look like he wasn’t his doing his job but was being paid. Khanna seems to have gone along with this without thinking through the consequences of such proposal.

    But, for the reasons I mentioned, I think that is a dangerous proposal so I think he deserves to be called on putting campaign politics above sound public policy.

  • Publius

    “Right now I am working with my colleagues in both parties to end this Tea Party-caused budget crisis.”

    Is Honda for real?The Tea Party caused this budget crisis? Years of deficit spending, massive borrowing, and runaway entitlement costs had nothing to do with it? The Republicans are not doing anything outlandish here, this has happened 17 times before. The house of Representatives is using the power granted to them by the constitution and are finally doing what they were elected to do. When one party rams a law down the throat of half of America this is what happens.

    Khanna is a Dem and his basic platform differs little from Honda’s, so he will do just as much damage if elected. I do agree with his jab about congress getting paid while the average nonessential government employee goes with out. The argument about compromising with the GOP to get a pay check is lame. Not excepting the check and not compromising would be sign of leadership and would coincide with the parties ‘everyone giving their fair share’ mantra.

  • JohnW

    Yes, egged on by former Sen. Jim DeMint (now at Heritage) and Ted Cruz, the Tea Party caucus in the House decided to make the Continuing Resolution all about ObamaCare, not about budget numbers. The Democrats already caved and accepted the GOP numbers for discretionary spending. And they started pushing for a conference committee in March to reconcile the House and Senate-passed budgets. People have started saying Sen. Ted Cruz is effectively the Speaker of the House. However, a BusinessWeek cover story says DeMint is the real power behind all this.

    The only reason Boehner is going along with this is that he needs 218 Republican votes to keep his job, and the Tea Party caucus controls enough of the GOP votes to make him fall short of that. Pelosi and company should go to Boehner and tell him, that if he brings a clean CR to the floor instead of sticking with the Hastert rule, Dems will deliver enough votes from their side to keep him Speaker. Problem solved.

  • Publius

    ” Problem solved.”
    A clean CR does not solve the problem. This country is mired in debt. Republicans and Democrats share the blame. Making the CR about Obamacare is absolutely necessary. This new entitlement will drive us further into debt. The argument that the Tea party is to blame just doesn’t work.
    When the toilet is clogged and self plunging has failed, one is forced to call a plumber. To do his work the plumber has to effectively close the bathroom. You and Honda are the ones banging on the door, standing with legs crossed blaming the plumber for the toilet shut down. Passing a clean CR keeps the bathroom open and the toilet still clogged, pretty soon the entire room is filled with sh**.
    Does Demint ride around in a black helicopter?

  • JohnW

    One of the late night TV talk show programs set up interviews outside their studio and asked passersby which they preferred — The Affordable Care Act or ObamaCare? They were overwhelmingly in favor of the ACA and against ObamaCare. Hilarious!

    Do you think any administration, Republican or Democrat, would or should gut one of its major policies or legislative achievements in return for an 8-week CR, only to come back for bending over on something else in two months and again in another two months?

    Do the business of government. Fund it. They already agreed on the dollar amount. Don’t default on obligations. Then get busy on tax reform and entitlements. If they want to talk about government’s role in health care, then look at everything — Medicare, Medicaid, VA, ACA, government subsidies for Health Savings Accounts (which benefit mostly upper income people) and the tax subsidy for employer-sponsored insurance.

    The GOP and Tea Party (the real RINOs) battle over Obamacare has nothing to do with spending and deficits. It’s about “government takeover of health care” and “death panels.” It’s people on Medicare whining about “socialized medicine” and saying “keep government hands off my Medicare.” It’s about Obama.

  • Elwood


    “Do the business of government.”

    Hoo boy, John, you really are a cockeyed optimist aren’t you?

  • RRSenileColumnist

    Why does RoKha, never elected by the people to any major office, get so much space on this blog?

  • Why? Because:
    1.) He’s running for Congress in one of the nation’s most-watched Dem-on-Dem fights.
    2.) He broke fundraising records, and so has built a formidable campaign apparatus.
    3.) It annoys trolls.
    (No, not really #3. But #1 and #2 are enough.)

  • JohnW

    No cockeyed optimist here. Didn’t mean anything grandiose. Just don’t turn every routine item of business into WW III.

  • Bruce

    4.) Ro Khanna & Josh Richman are friends. That is what friends are for.
    This troll is annoyed by corrupt Lafayette cops in my face & the cowardly lying weasels who control them.

  • Bruce, as usual, you crack me up. Khanna and I are no more friends than you and I – wait, you don’t think WE’RE friends too, do you?

  • SLtalk

    If it makes you feel better, Khanna’s supporters think you’re on Honda’s side.

    Personally, I haven’t seen any bias in your reporting. And I think you write about this story for the same reason I do: it’s fascinating to see two very strong candidates fight it out like this.

  • Bruce

    Wow! A reply from a famous writer.
    I can’t get a reply from any of the weasels running Lafayette, if my life depended on it. They all know me. They pretend to be friendly. I’m on their wall.poster.
    How much do I have to bribe you to be my friend Josh & write a story about the corrupt cowardly weasels running Lafayette. Wait! Your corrupt bosses would not publish it anyway.. It would be too exciting for all of the people with their heads in the sand.