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Sen. Bill Nelson: dock lawmakers' pay if fed workers get furloughed


From a press release:

TAMPA – U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) will announce here tomorrow that he and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) are filing legislation aimed at having members of Congress’ paychecks docked the same percentage as any federal worker furloughed as a result of sequestration.

“No one should get paid for inaction,” Nelson said today.  “And Congress clearly hasn’t done the job to avert the sequester.

“Everyone expects us to work together and find a common ground,” the Florida Democrat added.  “But too many in Washington keep fighting for their own political side.”

Said McCaskill: “The federal workforce is looking at furloughs that would result in a sizeable pay cut—and there’s absolutely no reason members of Congress should exempt themselves.  We can and should reach a balanced compromise to replace these damaging across-the-board cuts, but until we do, this is an obvious step to hold Congress accountable for the job we need to get done.”

An announcement is set for Friday morning - the same day steep across-the-board federal budget cuts are to go into effect, absent a deficit reduction deal in Congress by midnight tonight.

The cuts are a result of the so-called sequester measure Congress passed during tense debt-ceiling negotiations in 2011.  Talks to avert the spending cuts have failed so far.  Democrats offered a plan that includes targeted spending cuts with some new revenues, but Republicans are insisting upon a deal without tax increases.

The Senate late this afternoon rejected rival proposals to stop the sequester, all but ensuring the automatic spending cuts will begin tomorrow.  Furloughs aren’t expected to start until at least mid-April.

Nelson plans to announce he’s filing legislation with McCaskill a day after he talked to the powerful Senate Appropriations chairwoman Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who recently took to the Senate floor to talk about the devastating effect a furlough, or layoff of federal workers would have on the economy.  During a speech Tuesday she declared:

“If the workers are going to be cut 20 percent then I think Congress members’ pay should be cut by 20 percent.  I look forward to moving on that legislation in the coming weeks, but I hope it doesn’t come to that.”