Debbie Wasserman-Schultz: Um, no, I won't be forfeiting my congressional pay during the shutdown

More than 100 members of Congress, nearly half of them Democrats, have agreed to refuse their pay to share the shutdown hardship with furloughed federal workers. Wasserman-Schultz is, of course, no ordinary member — she’s the chair of the DNC. Naturally, the DNC is broke; as it turns out, so is Debbie herself. But here’s the thing: Even if she’s the rare congresscritter who’s living paycheck to paycheck, shouldn’t a professional politician tasked with a national leadership role by her party be able to dodge a question like this more artfully? Good lord. Even the lefties at TPM can’t resist highlighting it.

The Florida congressman was somewhat evasive when MSNBC’s Chuck Todd first asked about her salary.

“Because I support everybody who works for the federal government getting a salary, I continue to support reopening the government, making sure that everybody who is doing a job in the federal government can earn their salary and so that’s my position,” Wasserman Schultz said.

When Todd asked a follow-up, Wasserman Schultz gave a definitive answer.

“Yes, I’m gonna continue to take my salary,” she said.

Suggested answer: “I’d like to but, like many federal workers, I have kids in school and tuition payments coming up. Unlike most of my colleagues, I’m not rich. Still, I’d support a bill suspending the pay of all members of Congress until the shutdown is over, since that would send an institutional statement of solidarity to people who have been furloughed.” See? Sympathetic and supportive of the basic goal, and unlikely to cost her anything since that hypothetical bill almost certainly won’t be offered. If that doesn’t move you, though, here’s Mike Lee on the same subject. I don’t think this answer does him any favors — it’s easily spun by enemies as “I need to get paid to keep this shutdown going,” which is not a message you want out there when most of the public is opposed to shutdown — but at least there’s a principle involved, not just “Yeah, I want my money.”

“I don’t,” Lee said when asked if he refuse a salary like some members of Congress during the shutdown. “I’m working, I’ll continue to be paid.”

“You don’t want the lawmakers influencing their decision by whether or not they are going to get their paycheck,” he added. “You want them to come to consensus, you want them to get the government funded, and you want that to be on the basis of the merits of the decisions, and not on the basis of something else.”

His office says he’ll make a donation to charity for each day that the shutdown lasts. Via the Corner, here’s Debbie.

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