STATELINE (WIFR) -- For the first time in 17 years, part of the U.S. Government has been forced to shut down. Congress failed to agree on a temporary spending bill before last night’s midnight deadline, forcing thousands of workers off the job.
On Capitol Hill, lawmakers are still going at it. This morning, the senate quickly rejected the latest temporary spending bill passed in the house because it once again includes an amendment that weakens the new healthcare law. Republicans insist it’s their constituents who want to defund or delay the Affordable Care Act. They are now looking to sit down with democrats.
Hundreds of thousands of Federal Employees are not getting paid during this government shutdown. However, the same cannot be said for members of congress. Our local representatives say they’re against paying congress when lawmakers haven’t done their job.
It’s quiet at Adam Kinzinger’s Belvidere office. The 16th district representative has temporarily closed the satellite location while the government is shut down. Severalof his staff members who were furloughed are not guaranteed back-pay unless congress passes a measure.
Yet, the shutdown isn’t affecting lawmakers. They’re still getting paid. However, Kinzinger says he won’t accept his pay. 17th district representative Cheri Bustos doesn’t say she’s refusing pay, but she did sign off on the “No Government, No Pay Act” which would continually reduce congressional pay every day of a future government shutdown. Bustos’ Rockford office is open today but her employees aren’t getting paid.
Bustos says they’re actually extending their office hours so they can help more people during this shutdown. They’re opening an hour earlier and staying open an hour later. We also reached out to our local senators. Dick Durbin’s office tells us he hasn’t made an announcement about whether or not he’ll keep his pay, but his officers are closed and his staff is not getting paid during the shutdown and about 80% of them are furloughed. We’re still waiting to hear back from Senator Mark Kirk’s office.
Representative Kinzinger’s other office in Ottawa is open today. While those employees aren’t being paid right now, they are guaranteed back-pay. Meantime, all members of congress make $174,000.