INDIANAPOLIS – Congressman Rokita may finally have said he’s willing to donate his pay from the three-day shutdown to charity, but his begrudging complaints about it are a reminder that his “No Budget, No Pay” pronouncement in August was a sharp reversal from his decision to keep his pay during his own shutdown in 2013.
Congressman Rokita announced his Senate campaign in August with a series of variously feasible proposals, including one stating that Members of Congress who couldn’t pass funding bills to keep the government open should have their pay withheld. But the move struck a false note after he kept his own pay when he voted to shut down the government in 2013. Not only that, he vocally defended his decision in 2013, claiming he deserved his pay because he was “doing [his] job” and that not taking his pay “sends the message that we’re not doing our job and that I don’t deserve my pay.”
He was sharply criticized for hypocrisy by reporters in August, including the Journal & Courier’s Dave Bangert and Indy Star columnist Matthew Tully. In his column, Tully wrote that Congressman Rokita’s campaign message, including his “No Budget, No Pay” pronouncement, was “almost laughable in its hypocrisy and willingness to say just about anything to get elected.”
Since making “No Budget, No Pay” a central campaign policy, Congressman Rokita can no longer keep his shutdown pay with a straight face, but he has made clear he is not following his own proposal happily. Even as paychecks for members of the armed forces were being withheld Monday, Congressman Rokita complained in an interview on Fox News about having to forego his own pay, saying “frankly, I’ve been voting to keep the government open, so I’m not sure that I have to [donate].”
“Congressman Rokita believes congressmen and senators ought to follow the rules he dictates for them, but he shouldn’t have to follow them himself,” said Michael Feldman, spokesman for the Indiana Democratic Party. “Congressman Rokita’s hypocritical advocacy for “No Budget, No Pay,” proposals proves that he has no problem with calling for new rules he thinks you’re foolish enough to believe he sticks to—not because he actually he will, but because he thinks you’ll never catch him breaking them.”