Why Congress Will Still be Paid if There’s a Shutdown

Even if the federal government shuts down this week, members of Congress will still get paid because it’s protected by the Constitution.

The Daily Beast notes that the Congressional salary of $174,000 per year is guaranteed by the 27th Amendment, which says the salaries for lawmakers cannot change until after a Congressional election – the only federal employees who qualify for that level of protection.

The 27th Amendment was originally hatched by the Founding Fathers and ratified in 1992 to prevent senators and House members from boosting their own salaries before an election. But the reality is that Congress is now the only class explicitly protected by the Constitution from financial pain in the event that they themselves fail to fund regular government operations. Even their own congressional staff members will be furloughed or go to work on Capitol Hill without the promise of getting paid once the dust settles.

Looking to take the decision out of individual members’ hands, Sen. Barbara Boxerintroduced legislation in January to prevent any member of the House or Senate from getting paid in the event of a government shutdown. A similar bill passed the Senate unanimously in 2011, but the House never voted on it. This year, as the likelihood of a shutdown looks more certain than ever, Boxer’s bill has one co-sponsor, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA).