Reps. Pete Gallego and Joaquin Castro Donate Paycheck To Charity; Vote To Pay Furloughed Workers

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U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego, left, former President Bill Clinton, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, and U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, right, during a campaign rally last year.

Congressmen Pete Gallego (D-Alpine) and Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) today supported the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act — H.R. 3223 — to ensure all federal employees receive back pay once the federal government re-opens, regardless of their furlough status.

The bill comes five days into a government shutdown forced by Tea Party Republicans and House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) refusal to allow for a vote on a clean budget resolution.

Congressmen Pete Gallego and Joaquin Castro will also both be donating their pay to charity. Castro has chosen to donate his congressional pay to the Fisher House and the Battered Women's Shelter. Gallego will donate his pay to an organization that helps injured military personnel.

Members of Congress make a gross pay before taxes of about $14,500 a month.

Last Saturday, Congressman Pete Gallego filed two bills that hold lawmakers accountable in the event of a government shutdown. The first – The Shutdown Member of Congress Pay Act of 2013 – would suspend pay for Members of Congress in the event of a government shutdown. The second – The Preserve our National Security Act – would protect national security and Veterans during a shutdown.

Read the congressmen's statements and how the shutdown is affecting Texas' furloughed workers below the jump.U.S. Congressmen Pete Gallego and Joaquin Castro released the following statements following passage of the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act.

Congressman Pete Gallego:

“Legislation to fund the government should be about funding the government,” said Congressman Gallego. “No issue is worth shutting down the government and sacrificing people's pay. We should not have reached this point to begin with. The salaries of thousands of employees in Texas have been held hostage because of a pointless political game.

It is only fair to ensure that these employees are paid retroactively. Authorizing back pay is an important step for federal worker – but ending the shutdown is even more crucial.”

Congressman Joaquin Castro echoed Gallego's sentiments:

“Today, I voted to make sure that furloughed workers will receive their pay once the government shutdown is over, because it is the right thing to do. Texas is home to over 130,000 federal employees, 13 national parks, and 15 military installations. This shut down is hurting Texans and folks across the nation. The government shutdown is not their fault and they should not bear the brunt of this congressional gridlock.

As we hit day 5 of this stalemate, I-along with hundreds of Representatives-sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner demanding a vote on a full continuing resolution that would reopen government and put an end to this irresponsible shutdown. I remain committed to working with all of my colleagues to ensure that we come to a responsible solution and lift up our economy.”

Texas' furloughed workers are feeling the pain of the shutdown.

Texas ranks third among states in recent years (including the District of Columbia) in terms of total federal government employment, almost 166,000 federal employees working in the state. This does not count the personnel at military installations.

These federal workers are employed around the state in government offices and facilities in almost every major city.

Other federal departments and agencies also maintain a large workforce in the state including those in law enforcement, social security, healthcare, education, environmental protection, and more.

The Department of Defense estimates that during a shutdown nearly half of the civilian workforce would be sent home without pay, while the rest would continue to work for delayed pay, impacting the 51,621 civilian workers in Texas.    

184,230 servicemembers in Texas would remain on duty, but would see their pay delayed if the shutdown extends for more than 10 days.

Military members, veterans, retirees, and their families are on pace to redeem more than $100 million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits this year and many service members, especially the most junior, live paycheck to paycheck.

About Author

Omar Araiza

Omar Araiza is a proud South Texas native, born and raised in the lower Rio Grande Valley. He writes extensively about immigration, the U.S.-Mexico border, Latino voters, and LGBT issues. He tweets from @AraizaTX.

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