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updated: 4/3/2013 6:23 PM

Duckworth returns pay to reflect sequestration cuts

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  • U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates

       U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 

A suburban Democratic congresswoman said Wednesday she wrote a $1,218 check to the U.S. Treasury Department to refund a portion of her pay to reflect federal sequestration cuts.

"I'm sending off my check to the treasury today," Tammy Duckworth, of Hoffman Estates, told attendees at a morning round-table on Social Security and Medicare in Elk Grove Village.

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In late February, as the spending cuts -- forced after Congress failed to reach a plan to deal with the country's deficit -- were looming, Duckworth pledged to take an 8.4 percent pay cut until a solution is reached.

That 8.4 percent is the average amount that most "discretionary programs" -- including education, housing and urban development and defense -- face in cuts, 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 as she took part in an education round-table at Harper College in Palatine.

In an interview Wednesday, she said the decision wasn't backed by Democratic House leaders.

"I spoke with leadership, they said, 'Well, we generally don't think that's a good idea, people work hard and it becomes a gimmick,'" Duckworth said. "I said it's important to people in my district. And then they said, 'Well, you go ahead and do it.'"

A full 8.4 percent reduction of Duckworth's annual $174,000 congressional salary would be $14,616.

The check she wrote Wednesday, according to her staff, was 8.4 percent of one month's take home pay.

In recent weeks, several Obama administration officials, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter, have also announced they would cut their own pay.

President Barack Obama Wednesday also announced he plans to return 5 percent of his $400,000 annual salary to the Treasury Department.

Duckworth represents the 8th Congressional District, which is roughly centered in Schaumburg, and includes portions of Kane, Cook and DuPage counties.

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