Idaho congressional delegation furloughs workers; Crapo, Risch will donate pay

Idaho’s all-GOP congressional delegation scaled back constituent services Tuesday during the partial government shutdown. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch say they will donate the portion of their $174,000 annual pay earned during the shutdown to charity.

Crapo is keeping offices in Washington, D.C. and Boise open, but shuttered offices in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho Falls, Lewiston, Pocatello and Twin Falls for the week.

All members of Crapo’s staff will be subject to rotating furloughs, with each employee taking at least one unpaid furlough day this week. “Consequently, those who contact the Senator’s offices should expect delays in a response due to reduced staffing,” says a statement from Crapo’s office.

All of Risch’s offices are open, in Washington, D.C., Boise, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho Falls, Lewiston, Pocatello and Twin Falls. Because of the skeleton crew, however, staffers are taking phone calls and only having face-to-face meetings as time permits.

Eleven full-time and one half-time Risch staffers are working during the shutdown, while 18 are furloughed, said Risch spokeswoman Suzanne Bottorff.

Rep. Mike Simpson has closed his offices in Twin Falls, Pocatello and Idaho Falls. His Washington, D.C., and Boise offices are open. Six Simpson employees are at work, 11 have been furloughed.

Simpson spokeswoman Nikki Watts said Simpson “wants to be treated the same as as all federal employees” and will ask that his pay be withheld during the shutdown. After it ends, Simpson will get back pay, Watts said.

Rep. Raul Labrador’s spokesman, Todd Winer, said Labrador has asked that his pay be withheld. But Winer did not respond to an email asking whether Labrador plans to collect back pay.

Because their jobs are authorized by the U.S. Constitution, members of Congress must be paid by law. As of late Tuesday, about 50 members of Congress had said they would donate or refuse pay, according to the Washington Post.

As for Labrador’s staff, Winer said, “The few senior staff are working full-time. The rest are working on a rotating schedule. In accordance with the law, employees who are working full-time will not be paid until the government shutdown is over. Employees who are on a rotating schedule will not be paid for the days they do not work and they will not receive pay for the days they do work until the shutdown is over.”

Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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Posted in Idaho Politics