Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL), perhaps the most prominent conservative Republican in Congress right now, just staked out the path for his colleagues to follow if the federal government shuts down in five days as expected.
On Tuesday Gaetz sent a letter to Catherine Szpindor, Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. House of Representatives, instructing her office to withhold the entirety of his congressional salary for the duration of a shutdown should it occur. The congressman, who earns a base annual salary of $174,000, would see his paychecks stop at midnight on October 1, 2023 if House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is not able to negotiate a continuing resolution that funds the government.
“It is my understanding that pursuant to the Constitution, members of Congress will continue to receive their pay during a lapse in appropriations. Therefore, I am requesting that in the case of a lapse of appropriations beginning at 12:00 a.m. on October 1, 2023, my pay be withheld until legislation has taken effect to end such lapse in appropriations in its entirety,” Gaetz wrote in the letter.
McCarthy and Gaetz have been at each other’s throats in recent weeks, with Gaetz leading the charge to vacate the Speaker’s chair if McCarthy does not negotiate more concessions from the White House while McCarthy has essentially dared Rep. Gaetz to go ahead and try. The situation has grown so dire that Democrats are offering Speaker McCarthy an opportunity to keep his position in exchange for dropping his impeachment inquiry into the president and committing to continued funding for Ukraine.
One of Congress’s most conservative voices, Rep. Gaetz has burnished his penchant for theatrics at times. In July he accused FBI Director Christopher Wray of “protecting the Bidens” during Wray’s congressional testimony, and later savagely roasted Chris Christie for defending the director. Just one month earlier, he ripped into the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms over regulations he claimed were stripping law-abiding gun owners of their rights.
He has also had more light-hearted commentary, as when he laughed at Bud Light for going “woke,” telling cable news viewers, “No one wants to buy a beer from Lizzo.”
On the campaign trail, Rep. Gaetz has been a fierce defender of former President Donald Trump, offering to serve as his surrogate at GOP debates the former president has skipped.