Who's Forfeiting Pay Alongside Furloughed Employees?

DHS' Janet Napolitano will donate 5 percent of her salary to foundations that benefit DHS employees DHS' Janet Napolitano will donate 5 percent of her salary to foundations that benefit DHS employees AP

This story has been updated to add Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and  Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz.

A handful of lawmakers and federal executives who are exempt from taking forced unpaid leave due to sequestration have pledged to stand with the downtrodden and the furloughed. The following is a list of people in government whose pay is unaffected by the automatic, across-the-board cuts, but who have said they will dock their pay as federal employees are furloughed. We will update it as more officials join the movement. 


  • President Obama: Obama said he will give 5 percent of his salary back to the Treasury to “share in the sacrifice being made by public servants across the federal government that are affected by the sequester,” according to a White House official.
  • Chuck Hagel, Defense secretary: Hagel will return 5 percent of his salary to the Treasury, his spokesman said.
  • John Kerry, secretary of State: Kerry will donate 5 percent of his salary to charities benefiting State Department employees.
  • Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security secretary: The former Arizona governor will donate 5 percent of her salary to foundations that benefit DHS employees, Politico reported.
  • Sally Jewell, Interior Secretary: The former head of outdoor gear company REI will take a voluntary cut in her very first pay check, The Washington Post reported.
  • Shaun Donovan, Housing and Urban Development Department secretary: Donovan will donate 5 percent of his salary to charities in the affordable housing industry. Several additional sequestration-exempt HUD workers will forfeit some pay, The Washington Post reported.
  • Bob Perciasepe, Environmental Protection Agency acting administrator: Perciasepe has donated four days’ worth of pay to the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund.
  • Eric Holder, attorney general: Holder has said giving back part of his pay is “certainly something that I would consider,” according to Politico.
  • Arne Duncan, Education secretary: Duncan will consider docking his pay, “but nothing’s been decided,” a spokesman said.
  • Ashton Carter, deputy secretary of Defense: Carter told a Senate committee he would cut his own salary by 20 percent if his employees face an equivalent pay reduction through furloughs. Pentagon furloughs have since been reduced, however.
  • Jack Lew, Treasury secretary: Lew will contribute an undisclosed portion of his salary to organizations supporting those negatively affected by sequestration, the Associated Press reported
  • Tom Vilsack, Agriculture secretary: Vilsack told the Des Moines Register on April 9 that he will give up a portion of his salary if his department has to resort to furloughs. He did not say how much. 


  • Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz.: The freshman congressman introduced the Pay Cut for Congress Act, which would cut pay for members of congress by 20 percent to “share in the pain” with furloughed federal employees.
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.: After Carter volunteered to take a salary cut, Graham said, “We should follow your model. We should have our pay docked and the president should have his pay docked.” Graham later introduced a nonbinding budget amendment as part of “vote-a-rama” that would require senators to give 20 percent of their salary to the Treasury or to charity.
  • Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Bill Nelson, D-Fla.: The two senators have introduced legislation to make congressional salaries vulnerable to sequestration cuts. “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.”
  • Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.: Mikulski took to the Senate floor to call for congressional pay cuts to match federal employee furloughs.
  • Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska: Begich announced in a statement he would give the same number of days’ pay as his most furloughed staffers back to the Treasury.
  • Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.: Duckworth said in a statement she will take an 8.4 percent pay cut to match the reduction in most discretionary programs.
  • Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C.: The nonvoting representative from Washington, said she will donate a day’s pay for each day federal employees are furloughed -- matching the highest number of furlough days at any agency -- to the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund.
  • Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla.: "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.: The ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform told Government Executive in light of sequestration he will donate a portion of his salary to scholarship funds at Howard University and Morgan State University.
  • Rep. Ami Bera, D-Calif.: Bera will give 8.2 percent of his monthly pay to organizations in his home district being impacted by sequestration budget cuts. 

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