A growing cast of lawmakers and public officials exempt from sequestration cuts have announced they will take voluntary pay cuts in solidarity with federal employees facing mandatory furloughs.
Secretary of State John Kerry joined the ranks of Cabinet secretaries to forfeit salary Thursday, with the State Department announcing he will give 5 percent of his salary to a charity that supports his workforce.
Senate-confirmed political appointees, such as Kerry, are exempt from sequestration spending cuts.
Homeland Security Department Secretary Janet Napolitano will donate 5 percent of her salary to organizations that benefit DHS workers, according to Politico. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan also has pledged to forfeit 5 percent. Many of his deputies and advisers will join him in standing with career employees, with as many as nine exempt officials at HUD cutting their salaries, The Washington Post reported.
Bob Perciasepe, the Environmental Protection Agency’s acting administrator, will donate four days’ worth of pay -- the amount of time EPA employees will be furloughed between April 21 and June 15 -- to the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund, Politico reported.
Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Department Secretary Arne Duncan both have expressed openness to cutting their pay.
The Cabinet secretaries’ announcements come on the heels of President Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announcing this week they will voluntarily cut their own pay to “share in the sacrifice being made by public servants across the federal government that are affected by the sequester,” a White House official said. Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has also said he would take a voluntary pay cut.
In the legislative branch, Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, is the latest to forfeit a portion of his annual earnings, announcing Wednesday he will give back to the Treasury the same number of days as his most furloughed staffers. While lawmakers are protected from the across-the-board cuts resulting from sequestration, their offices are not.
Begich said more than half of his staff will experience a salary cut in 2013.
“We need to be making responsible cuts wherever we can and there is no reason that members of Congress shouldn't feel the pinch like everyone else,” Begich said in a statement. “This won't solve our spending problem on its own, but I hope it is a reminder to Alaskans that I am willing to make the tough cuts, wherever they may be, to get our spending under control."
Begich joins Sens. Clare McCaskill, D-Mo., Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Jay Rockerfeller, D-W.Va., as members of the upper chamber who have said they will give up some of their salary, The Hill has reported.
The Senate passed a nonbinding provision as part of the “vote-a-rama” that would require senators to give 20 percent of their salary to the Treasury or to charity. Sens. McCaskill and Bill Nelson, D-Fla., previously sponsored a bill to require cuts to congressional salaries under sequestration.
In the House, freshman Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., is the latest to announce he will dock his own pay.
"Sequestration's indiscriminate cuts are causing furloughs and job losses as well as cutting funding to many important programs in our communities, yet the salaries of members of Congress have not been affected,” Murphy said in statement. “That is why I am going to take a portion of my salary each month to support local charities who continue to go above and beyond to provide vital services to those in our community.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told Government Executive he will donate a portion of his salary to scholarship funds at Howard University and Morgan State University.
“I want to do my part to assure that these students do not have to suffer as a result of Congress’ failure to properly address our national fiscal issues,” Cummings said.
Cummings and Murphy join Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., a former Veterans Affairs Department official, and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., who also have pledged to forfeit pay.