Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the democratic socialist who will officially be a member of Congress next month, advocates for socialist policies like universal health care, universal education, and a universal income. Her entire policy agenda has a price tag of more than $40 trillion, alienating a majority of Americans from supporting her.
But on Saturday, Ocasio-Cortez suggested a government shutdown policy that may earn the support of a majority of Americans.
What did Ocasio-Cortez suggest?
During the next government shutdown, Ocasio-Cortez called for congressional salaries to be furloughed. Currently, congressional pay is exempt from being furloughed during a government shutdown.
"It's completely unacceptable that members of Congress can force a government shutdown on partisan lines & then have Congressional salaries exempt from that decision," Ocasio-Cortez said. "Have some integrity."
Next time we have a gov shutdown, Congressional salaries should be furloughed as well.
It's completely unacceptable that members of Congress can force a government shutdown on partisan lines & then have Congressional salaries exempt from that decision.
Have some integrity. https://t.co/BgueNNjf0f
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) December 22, 2018
The suggestion came just hours after the government entered a partial shutdown. Roughly one quarter of government agencies closed after lawmakers failed to approve a spending bill by midnight Saturday. Lawmakers will not be in full session again until after Christmas, meaning the shutdown will last through at least next Thursday.
Why don't government shutdowns affect every government employee?
Government shutdowns typically only effect employees who work for agencies with a budget required to be funded annually through appropriations bills. Employees who are considered "essential" continue to be paid, while those considered "nonessential" are told to stop showing up to work — and aren't paid for the shutdown period.
Fortunately, Congress typically acts to give "nonessential" employees back pay once the government re-opens.
Most members of Congress make $174,000 annually, along with excellent benefits. Their compensation is written into law, and therefore would need another law to amend their compensation package.
Still, many members of Congress — either sympathetically or because they realize the optics of the situation — voluntarily forego pay during government shutdown periods, while others donate their pay to charity.