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Posted at 7:23 PM ET, 03/ 1/2011

Senate moves to prohibit lawmakers and president from getting paid during shutdowns

By Felicia Sonmez

The Senate approved Tuesday a measure that would prevent the president and members of Congress from receiving their salaries during a government shutdown.

The measure, S.388, passed by unanimous consent after Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) dropped his objection to it.

The bill would prohibit members of Congress and the president from receiving basic pay for any period in which there is "more than a 24-hour lapse in appropriations for any Federal agency or department as a result of a failure to enact a regular appropriations bill or continuing resolution." It would also prohibit any retroactive pay

The same penalty would also take effect if the government is unable to make payments or meet obligations because the national debt limit has been reached.

During the floor debate Tuesday, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who sponsored the amendment, had a contentious exchange with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) over whether the measure was constitutional, The Hill reported.

Leahy pointed to Article II of the Constitution, which states that the president's salary "shall neither be increased nor diminished during the period for which he shall have been elected." Boxer defended the measure, noting that her staff had looked into the constitutionality issue and arguing that the bill was not likely be challenged in court.

The measure would need to clear the House and be signed by the president in order to become law.

By Felicia Sonmez  | March 1, 2011; 7:23 PM ET
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Boxer and her staff are playing fast and loose with the Constitution. Saying that a measure is 'constitutional' is not the same as saying that the 'bill was not likely to be challenged in court.'

Posted by: jak201 | March 2, 2011 12:42 PM | Report abuse

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