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California delegation split over taking pay during shutdown

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WASHINGTON -- When it comes to the question of whether lawmakers should accept their pay during the federal government shutdown, California’s congressional delegation is, as usual, divided.

Some Democrats and Republicans are forgoing their salaries until federal workers are paid or donating their pay to charities or groups affected by the shutdown.

"On my dairy farm in California, I would not pay an employee if they refused to do their job,’’ said freshman Rep. David Valadao, a Central Valley Republican who asked for his pay to be withheld during the shutdown.  "This is no different. If Congress is unable to do its job and pass a federal budget then I do not believe we should receive a salary.’’ 

FULL COVERAGE: The U.S. government shutdown

Fellow Freshman Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside) is among at least 15 members of the state’s 53-member House delegation who have asked for their pay to be withheld "in solidarity’’ with federal workers until the shutdown ends.

Yet other lawmakers -- as ideologically apart as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) -- are taking their pay. 

Thompson said in an interview that he is taking his pay because "I’m working.’’  

PHOTOS: The impact of the shutdown

Richard T. Dykema, Rohrabacher’s chief of staff, noted that the congressman is "expected to show up for work during the shutdown’’ and expects to be paid.

A spokesman for Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose) said he is continuing to receive his pay. "He continues to vote, meet with congressional leaders, and -- with the aid of his staff -- help constituents with casework.’’

The different responses come as Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) has pushed for passage of the "Pay Your Bills or Lose Your Pay Act’’ that would prevent lawmakers from being paid their $174,000-a-year salary if they do not increase the nation's borrowing authority. The bill has yet to make it to the House or Senate floors for a vote.

Some lawmakers, including Boxer and fellow California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, are donating their salaries during the shutdown to charities or groups impacted by the shutdown.

“If Congress can’t do its job and put the American people first, then they certainly shouldn’t get paid during a crisis that they are causing,’’ said Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove), who plans to  give his pay to a local group impacted by the shutdown.

Reaction to lawmakers who are suspending their pay has been mixed, judging by the comments on Rep. Ed Royce's (R-Fullerton) Facebook page after he posted a letter to the House chief administrative officer asking that his pay be withheld as long as the government is shutdown.

While some praised Royce, one person commented: "The politicians should forfeit their pay rather than withholding it.’’ 

Among the Democrats who have asked that their pay be withheld until the shutdown ends are Janice Hahn of San Pedro, Brad Sherman of Sherman Oaks, Judy Chu of Monterey Park, Alan Lowenthal of Long Beach, Eric Swalwell of Dublin, Jim Costa of Fresno, Raul Ruiz of Palm Desert and Susan Davis of San Diego. Republicans who have done so include House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, Ken Calvert of Corona and Duncan Hunter of Alpine.

Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff of Burbank, Julia Brownley of Oak Park, Scott Peters of La Jolla, John Garamendi of Walnut Creek and Bera are among those who are donating their salaries to charities or groups impacted by the shutdown.

Also declining a paycheck during the shutdown is freshman Rep. Paul Cook (R-Yucca Valley), who is cosponsoring  the "Government Shutdown Fairness Act’’ to prevent members of Congress from receiving a salary during a shutdown.  

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), among Congress’ wealthiest members, donates his entire congressional salary to charity. 

The House, in a rare Saturday session, unanimously approved legislation to ensure back pay for furloughed government workers.

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richard.simon@latimes.com

Twitter: @richardsimon11

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