Norton to donate pay during sequester to help federal workers


Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton photographed in her office in the Rayburn building in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 12, 2012. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

Barring a miracle, it appears Congress will be unable to avert sharp budget cuts set to hit Friday. But Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) will at least try to soften the blow a bit, using her own paycheck.

The Constitution says lawmakers can’t cut their own pay mid-Congress, so a salary cut couldn’t legally take effect until after the next election. Members are free, however, to return or donate some of their pay, and that’s what Norton plans to do.

For each day that many federal workers are furloughed during the sequester, Norton plans to donate a day’s worth of her pay. Half the money will go to the Federal Employee Education & Assistance Fund, which provides emergency loans as well as child-care subsidies and other financial help for federal workers. Norton will donate the other half of the money to her own congressional office budget to compensate for sequester cuts and prevent or reduce furloughs of her staff.

“By supplementing my office budget, we will continue to provide the same level of constituent services to District residents, and in contributing to the Federal Employee Education & Assistance Fund, I hope to indicate my solidarity with federal employees and willingness to help,” Norton said in a statement issued by her office.

Though furloughs will vary at each federal agency, “Norton’s donations will match the highest number of furlough days by any federal agency,” her office said.

Norton isn’t the only lawmaker planning to give back during the sequester. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) says she will return 8.4 percent of her monthly salary to the U.S. Treasury for each month that the cuts are in effect. Duckworth reached that total by calculating what would be cut from discretionary federal spending programs.

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