The ongoing government shutdown has dominated headlines since it began, and it has also led to some bizarre situations.
In one of the strangest twists of the new year, a legal loophole means that many Washington officials are set to receive pay raises — but Vice President Mike Pence took the lead in refusing to take more of the people’s money.
According to The Washington Times, this odd situation triggered by the partial shutdown means that many federal officeholders, including Pence, are legally entitled to between $10,000 and $13,000 in pay bumps.
The reason? A pay cap that is supposed to be in effect couldn’t be renewed this year because of the government stalemate.
“The vice president’s salary is scheduled to rise from $230,700 to $243,500 as an ironic result of the shutdown, which has caused 450,000 federal employees to work without pay,” The Washington Times reported.
“Hundreds of senior Trump political appointees are to receive raises of about $10,000 a year starting Saturday, due to an existing pay freeze that lapsed when lawmakers failed to pass bills Dec. 21 to keep the government open,” the newspaper continued.
At first glance, it’s a sneaky way for our elected officials to milk more out of the American taxpayer, but not so fast. During a media conference on Friday, Pence declared that he’s rejecting the raise and the administration is encouraging others to do the same.
“Vice President Mike Pence said Friday he won’t accept a $12,800 pay raise, and President Trump will consider asking other top administration officials to reject similar salary hikes resulting from a legislative loophole with the government shutdown,” The Washington Times reported.
The issue was brought up by reporters at the White House, and one of them asked President Trump if he would push government officials to decline the pay increase.
“I might consider that,” Trump replied. “That’s a very good question.”
However, his vice president took the initiative just minutes later and set an example for others in Washington. Before the news conference was even finished, Pence told reporters that he would not take the money despite being legally permitted.
That triggered a more formal response from White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
“The administration is aware of the issue and we’re exploring options to prevent this from being implemented while some federal workers are furloughed,” she said. “Congress can easily take care of this by funding the government and securing our borders.”
Even though $12,800, or just over a grand a month, may not be the biggest stack of cash in the world, that’s arguably exactly why this gesture is so important. Pence could have just shrugged it off and pocketed the difference, but he has more character than that.
It has been said that you can tell if a person can be responsible for a large amount of money by whether they are honest with smaller numbers. This holds true for the local cashier all the way to the vice presidency.
While so many in government seem to see only dollar signs, this move is a breath of fresh air. America could use more people like Mike Pence.
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