Even before the shutdown became a reality, lawmakers vowed to withhold their salaries or donate them to charity if the government indeed closed.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has decided to donate his salary to YES Prep, a group of charter schools that provide education to low-income children in the Houston area, a Cruz press assistant told National Journal. One of the first to announce he would donate his pay for the duration of the shutdown, Cruz had kept quiet about which organization he chose for two days, despite “hundreds, maybe even thousands” of calls to his office.
Congress members have the freedom to donate their salaries at any time. Witholding their pay? Not so much. As National Journal‘s Matt Berman points out, making changes the way Congress members are paid mid-session is unconstitutional, according to the 27th Amendment: “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.” However, this small piece of the supreme law of the country is unlikely to other politicians who have promised to dock their pay.