HARRISBURG -- A growing number of Pennsylvania's members of Congress are saying they will not take a paycheck while the federal government is shut down, although most will not miss a paycheck unless the shutdown continues into November.
A spokesman for the U.S House's chief administrative office said Monday that monthly paychecks for members are not due until the end of October, so no House member has missed a paycheck as a result of the federal government shutdown that began last week.
Senators, like many federal employees, are paid twice a month, with the next paycheck due around Oct. 15. Pennsylvania Sens. Pat Toomey and Bob Casey have said they will not accept a paycheck during the shutdown.
More than half the members of Pennsylvania's 18-person U.S. House contingent say they have asked for their pay to be withheld or will not accept a paycheck, including Rep. Scott Perry, R-York County. Seven congressmen did not respond to inquiries Monday, and the chief administrative office would not say whose pay it was asked to withhold.
Rank-and-file U.S. House and Senate members make $174,000 a year.
Lawmakers who asked for their paychecks to be withheld during a shutdown would still be issued all of their back pay by congressional administrators once the shutdown ends, and law-
makers are moving to ensure that hundreds of thousands of federal employees will be treated the same way.
A large chunk of the 800,000 furloughed federal employees will soon be returning to work after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered nearly all 350,000 furloughed Defense Department civilian employees back on the job, saying they were crucial to national security.
Next step: Meanwhile, Democrats controlling the Senate are planning to try to pass a stand-alone measure to increase the government's borrowing cap, challenging Republicans to a filibuster showdown that could unnerve financial markets as the deadline to a first-ever default on U.S. obligations draws closer.
A spokesman said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could unveil the measure as early as Tuesday, setting the table for a test vote later in the week. The measure is expected to provide enough borrowing room to last beyond next year's election, which means it likely will permit $1 trillion or more in new borrowing above the current $16.7 trillion debt ceiling that the administration says will be hit on Oct. 17.
The development came as a partial shutdown of the government enters its second week with no end in sight.
Democrats from President Obama on down to the most junior lawmakers said again Monday that the House should vote immediately on ending the partial closure of the government. Obama said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, "doesn't apparently want to see the ... shutdown end at the moment, unless he's able to extract concessions that don't have anything to do with the budget."
Boehner, in rebuttal, called on Obama to agree to negotiations on changes in "Obamacare" and steps to curb deficits, the principal GOP demands for ending the shutdown that began with the Oct. 1 beginning of the new fiscal year, and eliminating the threat of default.
Also Monday, a survey released by The Washington Post and ABC News said disapproval of Republican handling of the budget showdown was measured at 70 percent, up from 63 percent a week earlier. Disapproval of Obama's role was statistically unchanged at 51 percent.