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Ayotte, Shaheen pledge to donate their salaries to charity during shutdown

Both of New Hampshire’s U.S. senators said yesterday they’ll donate their salaries to charity as long as the federal government is shut down.

Under the 27th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Congress can’t change its compensation mid-session. So members are continuing to receive their salaries – $174,000 a year for rank-and-file senators and representatives – despite the shutdown that began 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, announced she’ll send her pay to the New Hampshire Food Bank.

“I didn’t think it was appropriate to take a salary while so many people have been furloughed because of the government shutdown,” she said in a statement. “We need to immediately come together and get the government running again because the consequences of this shutdown are very real for families and small businesses across New Hampshire and the country.”

Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte followed suit, tweeting, “Any days that federal workers do not get paid, I will donate my salary to a New Hampshire charity.”

U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster will make charitable contributions during the shutdown, a spokesman said, but he didn’t say she would donate her full salary.

“For every day the government is shut down, Rep. Kuster will contribute to Child and Family Services of New Hampshire and organizations serving veterans and military families,” said spokesman Rob Friedlander in a statement.

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, too, indicated she would give to charity but didn’t say she would donate her full pay.

“My husband and I contribute regularly to good causes. We’ll continue to make charitable donations,” Shea-Porter said in a statement. “We have always kept our charitable giving private and will continue to do so.”

The New Hampshire Republican Party called on both Democrats to give up their salaries for the duration of the budget standoff.

“Reps. Kuster and Shea-Porter have no excuse for keeping even one penny of their salaries during this shutdown while hardworking federal employees suffer through unpaid furloughs,” said Chairwoman Jennifer Horn in a statement.

The New Hampshire Democratic Party responded by bringing up the lien placed on Horn’s home in 2011 for unpaid federal taxes.

“It is impossible to take anything Jennifer Horn says about funding the federal government with a straight face until she pays the $90,000 dollars she owes in back taxes,” said party spokesman Harrell Kirstein in a statement.

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

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