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Congressman Gary Peters Says He'll Donate His Paycheck If The Government Shuts Down

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GARY PETERS
Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., addresses supporters during the Michigan Democratic election night party at the MGM Grand Detroit, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) | AP

Congressman Gary Peters (D-Mich) says that a looming government shutdown could delay paychecks to military members and their families; furlough federal workers deemed "non-essential" by the government, or even slow down Social Security and veterans' benefits claims.

Members of the House and Senate aren't considered non-essential employees. That means they'd continue to receive regular paychecks during the shutdown.

But if the House can't find a way to avoid a government shutdown by Monday night, Peters, a two-term member of the House of Representatives who is running for Senate, says he will donate every cent of his paycheck to charity.

"Political gridlock undermines our economy and a government shutdown will cause more problems for families across Greater Detroit," he told The Huffington Post in an email.

"Whether it’s a delay in Social Security checks or veterans’ benefits, it is irresponsible to shut down the government just to score political points," Peters added. "It is time to stop the political gamesmanship, and we must work together to focus on tackling our nation’s serious fiscal challenges.”

The federal government teeters on the brink of a partial shutdown Monday, as House Republicans continue to delay temporary funding to run the government if major portions of the Affordable Care Act and a tax on medical devices aren't also delayed for a year. Members of Congress draw an annual salary of $174,000 and the 27th Amendment states their pay can't be changed before another congressional election.

“I have voted to fix the health care law and will continue to work to improve health care so it works for Michigan families and small businesses, but I cannot join this irresponsible attempt to shut down the government," Peters said in a statement on Sunday. "Along with many Republicans and Democrats from all across the country, I urge Congress to focus on working together to tackle our nation’s serious fiscal challenges and not continue to be sidetracked.”

The Michigan Republican Party issued a statement Monday that accused Peters of "voting against funding the government" for voting against stripping out a provision in the short-term funding bill that would have eliminated all federal dollars required to launch the Obamacare program. Early Sunday morning, the Republican-led House voted 231-192 to repeal a tax on medical devices that helps fund the Affordable Care Act provisions and delays several key part of the Obamacare program by a year. Peters, along with most Democrats, voted against the funding bill's changes.

“Gary Peters is another partisan politician who prefers putting personal priorities ahead of the people he represents,” said Michigan Republican Party Chairman Bobby Schostak in the statement. “As a shutdown looms, Gary Peters would rather put Obamacare ahead of senior citizens who rely on social security and servicemen and women defending our freedoms. That’s not a leader, and those definitely aren’t qualities the people of Michigan want in a U.S. Senator.”

Peters is one of a handful of elected officials who have said they won't draw a paycheck if the government shutdown begins tonight, the Daily Beast reported. Pete Gallego (D-Texas) introduced a bill on Saturday that would designate Congressional representatives as "non-essential employees," meaning that they would also stop being paid as of Tuesday.

CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this story, a House of Representatives vote to repeal a tax on medical devices was mistakenly identified as a Senate vote.

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