While U.S. Rep. Mike Turner says he's clearly making progress toward getting furloughed Wright-Patterson Air Force Base employees back to work during the government shutdown, he was less clear about whether he would give up his salary during the shutdown.
"I am working for the people of the community to get everyone back to work," Turner, 10th congressional district, told News Center 7's Layron Livingston in a telephone interview Tuesday evening, on day one of the shutdown. "I will continue to do that."
When Livingston asked Turner whether it's fair that he and other members of Congress continue to be paid while some of their staff go without pay, Turner said, "We're at work. We're at work making certain that we get this resolved. And that's what's important."
On the issue of trying to get Wright-Patt workers back on the payroll, Turner said he has sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel pointing out the language in the bill President Obama signed authorizing military uniformed troops to be paid and remain on duty during the shutdown.
Hagel's office has indicated that he is reviewing the issue, Turner said, and "there is an opportunity that perhaps some of the furloughs that have been recommended at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base can be lessened."
Turner said he's not sure how many employees could be affected. More than 8,700 civilian workers at the base are included in the estimated 800,000 government workers who have been furloughed because of the shutdown.
"I was surprised that Secretary Hagel had furloughed anyone" at Wright-Patt because of the language in the bill and the law, Turner said, noting the language authorizes him to keep on anyone who is in support of the armed forces.
"We're going to continue the fight over the next several days to get the Pentagon to recognize that people working for the armed forces, whether they be uniform or civilian, ought to be at work and ought to be paid."
Turner and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio agree that the government should not have been shut down. Neither one has any idea how long the shutdown will last.
But on the issue of whether members of Congress should be drawing a paycheck during the crisis, Brown said he would do what he did the last time the government was partially shut down by Congress.
"I plan to, starting today [Tuesday], to do what I did 18 years ago...give my salary to charity," Brown told a Cox reporter in Washington.
Brown said one of the charities will be Honor Flight, the nonprofit that honors America's veterans by taking them to Washington, D.C., to visit their memorials.
"I'm not going to judge others that aren't doing that," Brown said of giving up his salary. "I just think it's the way we should operate."
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