Some Tennessee Congressmen Forgo Salary, But All Stick To Shutdown Talking Points

Rep. Diane Black stands with other House Republicans at a press conference, asking the Senate to take up their proposal to reopen the federal government. Image: Rep. Diane Black/Instagram

Rep. Diane Black stands with other House Republicans at a press conference, asking the Senate to take up their proposal to reopen the federal government. Image: Rep. Diane Black/Instagram

Two Tennessee Representatives say they’ll forgo their salaries, along with dozens of other members of Congress, while the federal government shutdown drags on.

Nashville Democrat Jim Cooper and Gallatin Republican Diane Black both say they’ll donate their salaries to charity.  A rule says they would still get paid otherwise, even as hundreds of thousands of federal workers wonder when they’ll see another paycheck.

Members of Congress make $174,000 a year, which comes to almost $500 per day, before taxes. Cooper, and Tennessee Senators Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander, say they’re also furloughing staffthey can’t pay during the shutdown. Congressman Scott DesJarlais is keeping his offices open, reports The Tennessean:

“Congressman DesJarlais does not hire non-essential staff,” said Robert Jameson, spokesman for DesJarlais, R-Jasper. “Everyone employed by the congressman plays an important role in serving the constituents of the Fourth District.”

FURLOUGHS HURT, BUT BLACK SAYS CONSTITUENTS ANGRY ABOUT OBAMACARE

Many residents of Diane Black’s district work at the Air Force’s Arnold Engineering Development Center, in Tullahoma.  Black says she’s heard from furloughed AEDC employees who want to get back to work, but she says she’s also hearing from constituents who want her to stand firm against Obamacare.

“This is affecting people in my district.  I’m hearing people lose their jobs,” Black said in an interview Wednesday. “I’m hearing they have limited health care choices.  I’m hearing them say premiums are going up a lot — for some people a lot.  And they want me to stand up for them and say this isn’t right.”

COHEN RAILS AGAINST PIECEMEAL SOLUTION

House Republicans tried to pass a series of piecemeal bills to reopen parts of the federal government, including the National Institutes of Health. The proposals didn’t pass, but Memphis Democrat Steve Cohen took the House floor Wednesday to chide the GOP for their “crocodile tears” over NIH funding.

The shutdown of the NIH is in addition to sequestration cuts, which Cohen says he’s trying to reverse. “Not once have Republicans said that they will fund [the NIH] at the level it should be. Not once,” he said on the House floor Wednesday.

“In 1954, I came down with polio—and it affects me to this day,” said Cohen. “It wasn’t until 6 months later that the polio vaccine was made available, and it might never have been without the National Institutes of Health.”

WPLN’s Daniel Potter contributed to this report.

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