WASHINGTON — Maine members of Congress have promised not to accept any pay during a shutdown of the federal government.

Negotiations between majority House Republicans, majority Senate Democrats and the White House continue as the midnight deadline nears. Lawmakers are at odds over how to fund the government for the remaining months of the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

A so-called federal shutdown beginning at 12:01 a.m. Saturday wouldn’t mean all federal operations cease; military operations would continue, mail would be delivered and Social Security and other benefit checks would go out, for example.

But if lawmakers don’t agree on a compromise, Republican U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Democratic U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree of the 1st District and Mike Michaud of the 2nd District all say they won’t accept congressional pay for as long as the shutdown lasts.

The vows by Maine lawmakers mirror that of many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle from around the country.

“I hope that congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle are able to compromise and arrive at a deal that will avoid a government shutdown,” Michaud said in a statement this morning. “But if they do not, Congress shouldn’t receive a paycheck while the rest of the country suffers from their dysfunction.”

Pingree “believes it is Congress’ responsibility, along with the president, to pass a budget,” said Willy Ritch, Pingree’s spokesman. “If there is a failure, it is a failure on the part of Congress and the executive branch, so they should pay the price.”

Collins and Snowe have signed on to a “no budget, no pay” letter that Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia began circulating to senators on Thursday. The Senate also has passed a measure that seeks to prevent lawmakers and the president from drawing a salary during a shutdown. The House has not taken action on it, but instead approved its own measure so neither has become law.

The bipartisan group of senators who have signed the letter, more than two dozen as of Thursday, pledge that they will either donate their salary to charity or return it to the U.S. Treasury during a shutdown.

“Some in Washington will deride this as an empty gesture,” the letter says. “To those naysayers, I say that the American people expect more of us. They expect us to lead by example and share their pain until a budget resolution is reached that reflects our values and priorities as a country.”
 

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