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Article updated: 2/27/2013 6:14 PM

Duckworth will cut own pay if sequester happens

By Kerry Lester

A suburban Democratic congresswoman says she plans to put her money where her mouth is in the event of a sequester.

U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, of Hoffman Estates, plans to take a pay cut of 8.4 percent if automatic spending cuts go into effect Friday, as they will if Congress fails to reach a plan to deal with the country's deficit.

That 8.4 percent is the average amount that most "discretionary programs" -- including education, housing and urban development and defense -- will be cut, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Duckworth, who is believed to be the first member of Congress to offer up such a pledge, said the idea came to her last week as she took part in an education round-table at Harper College in Palatine.

"Superintendents were talking about losing anywhere from $200,000 to a couple million -- and these cuts affect Head Start programs, reading tutors, programs for special needs students," she said. "I wanted to be in the same place that my constituents will be."

Duckworth, after talking with her husband Bryan, decided "this was the right thing to do for me."

Duckworth plans to return the money to "the Treasury and the taxpayers" until a solution is reached. A full 8.4 percent reduction of Duckworth's $174,000 congressional salary would be $14,616.

Congress is not new to 11th-hour negotiations, having reached temporary deals on the fiscal cliff and debt ceiling with only hours to spare.

Duckworth said it is her hope that Congress moves away from "the crisis politics that we practice."

"We need to come to an agreement. I know whatever we do is not going to be perfect for anyone but that's a major compromise so we don't plunge the nation back into a recession."

She favors cutting subsidies for oil, gas and agriculture, and working to end Medicare fraud among ways to save the country money. Duckworth also supports the "Buffet rule" proposed by the Obama administration -- placing a tax rate of 30 percent on income over a million dollars.

Republicans, on the other hand, object to increasing taxes and prefer cuts to entitlement programs as a solution.

Outside of Congress, at least one other government official is offering to cut his own pay in the event of a sequester.

Two weeks ago, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that he would cut his pay by one fifth, in solidarity with civilian employees who could face similar pay cuts if the federal budget cuts are enacted as scheduled.

The 8th Congressional District, roughly centered in Schaumburg and stretching from Barrington Hills to Oak Brook, includes portions of Kane, Cook and DuPage counties.

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