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Employees at federal agencies are adjusting to across-the-board federal spending cuts from the so-called sequester that went into place at the beginning of March. And while President Obama and Congress haven't made any promises for turning off the sequester cuts, some leaders, including the President, say they will give up part of their salary to show solidarity for the federal workforce. David Hawkings, author of the Hawkings Here column for Roll Call, talks about the latest in these cuts.
On the president (and lawmakers others) giving up 5 percent of his salary while the sequester is in effect: "It's good politics, and they can afford to do it. The president, in addition to his $400,000 salary, is also a bestselling author, so he's getting royalties. Secretary of State John Kerry who announced he was going to give up some of his salary yesterday, is one of the richest people in Washington, certainly in the Senate, and other cabinet members as well, have good outside earnings, so they can afford to do it."
On Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski's proposal for Congressional leaders to take a salary cut with the sequester: "They didn't gain any ground because the members of Congress want the money. They make more than most Americans, but they make less than the President... they make in the $170,000s, I think, most members of Congress. There was a non-binding vote in the Senate, just before recess that encouraged senators to forgo 20 percent of their salary during the sequester. But as far as I know, the only person that sponsored that idea, Lindsey Graham, is the only one who announced that he's going to forgo that much money. He says he's going to give back $34,000."
On whether we can we expect others to follow the President's lead as the impact of the sequester becomes apparent: "There have always been a handful of members — generally it's a big handful when the Republicans dominate and a smaller handful when the Democrats dominate — who do give back a portion of their salary. They actually write a check, essentially a federal donation that goes to the federal treasury to debt reduction. This will probably increase between now and the next election."