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Dem senators say 'No government, no pay' with new bill to freeze salaries during a shutdown

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), questions Defense Secretary nominee, retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis speaks during his Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill, on January 12, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Five Democratic senators introduced a bill Friday that would keep members of Congress from getting paid during a government shutdown.

The bill was introduced by U.S. Sens. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Jon Tester of Montana, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

What they said

"Hard working North Dakotans like our farmers and ranchers do everything they can to support their families and make ends meet," said Heitkamp in the press release. "If they don't get the job done in the field, they don't get paid, and the same should be true for their representatives in Congress. If members of Congress can't fulfill their basic duty to keep the government open and provide the essential services Americans depend on, then they don't deserve their paychecks. Period."

The other senators echoed that sentiment.

"As a Montana farmer, I know if you don't do the work you aren't going to get paid and Washington could certainly learn a thing or two from Montanans," Tester said.

Stabenow said she would donate her salary during the potential shutdown regardless of whether the bill passes.

"It's wrong that members of Congress would still get paid in the event of a shutdown while paychecks for members of the military could be disrupted," Stabenow said.

Why it won't make a difference right now

Despite the grand gesture that the senators say they hope will motivate members of Congress to be more reasonable in negotiations, this bill wouldn't take effect for quite some time if it passed.

The 27th amendment prevents Congress from raising or lowering its pay, so this legislation couldn't take effect until the 116th Congress, which begins in Jan. 2019.

Stuck on immigration

The government is still on track toward a shutdown as some Democrats continue to insist on a provision in the spending legislation to protect DACA immigrants now and going forward.

The House passed a four-week spending extension Thursday, but the measure doesn't yet have the necessary 60 Senate votes to pass. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer met with President Donald Trump on Friday, but left with a "good number of disagreements," according to Schumer.

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