HUDSON, N.Y. -- U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson volunteered Monday to help make holiday care packages for needy families at Catholic Charities Food Pantry, the same charity to which he donated the congressional pay he earned while the federal government was shut down for 16 days in October.
Both local congressmen -- Gibson, a Kinderhook Republican, and U.S. Rep. Paul D. Tonko, a Democrat from Amsterdam -- have made good on their shutdown promises to donate any pay they received when Congress was stuck in a bitter partisan split over President Barack Obama's health care reforms. The shutdown resulted in the furlough of some 400,000 federal workers.
According to Tonko's office, the congressman donated his shutdown pay in three equal parts of $1,550 to the Regional Food Banks of Northeastern New York in Latham, Leatherstocking Honor Flight in Cobleskill and the Northern Rivers Family Services Development Department in Albany.
"The idea that two political parties can't come together to get a mission done is foreign to me -- and unacceptable," said Gibson, a retired Army colonel who also has pledged to return his nearly $4,300 monthly military pension back to the U.S. Treasury for the duration of his time in Congress.
"It's an individual choice," he said of parting with the shutdown money. "Each member has to make that choice."
Gibson, who was first elected in 2010, said he chose Catholic Charities because of his family's long association with the charity. He said his wife, Mary Jo, a licensed clinical social worker, is a regular volunteer there and worked for the for the organization in Queens when he taught at West Point.
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