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Elizabeth Warren Is Donating Her Shutdown Salary to Refugee Nonprofit

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren says she'll donate her salary to a group that resettles refugees in the US until President Donald Trump reopens the government.
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren
Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images

As the government shutdown creeps into its second week, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has pledged to donate her salary to a nonprofit organization that helps resettle refugees coming to the United States.

"Over 7,000 people in Massachusetts have been sent home or are working without paying during #TrumpShutdown," Warren tweeted on Tuesday. "Until @realDonaldTrump re-opens the government, I'm donating my salary to @HIASrefugees, a nonprofit that helps refugees and makes our country stronger in the process."

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Warren is among at least four other senators who are donating their salaries to charity during the shutdown, following the example of Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono, and North Dakota Senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp. The Republican who defeated Heitkamp in November, Kevin Cramer, dismissed the move as "gimmicky," saying he had "no intention" of donating his salary once he's sworn in on Thursday.

The current government shutdown—the third one since President Donald Trump took office—began on December 22, after Trump refused to entertain a spending bill that didn't include $5 billion for his promised southern border wall. Entering its 12th day, the shutdown has left more than 350,000 employees temporarily out of work without pay and roughly 450,000 more working without compensation because their positions are deemed "essential."

On Friday, the Office of Personnel Management provided employees with sample letters to send to landlords and creditors if they are unable to make rent or pay bills during the shutdown. One letter, which officials from the OPM later said they sent out "inadvertently," suggested furloughed government employees offer to perform chores like painting and carpentry work "in exchange for partial rent payments" until the government reopens. Meanwhile, nine federal government departments remain underfunded, relying on leftover funds allocated by the last spending bill; maintenance at national parks has fallen to the wayside; and the Smithsonian museums and National Zoo have been forced to close.

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Lawmakers on the hill are hoping to reach an agreement this week, as a new Congress takes power. A bipartisan caucus of House and Senate leadership is reportedly heading to the White House Wednesday afternoon for a briefing on Trump's border wall, which persists as the sticking point in budget negotiations. In advance of the meeting, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called for Republicans and Trump to accept a deal that excludes the billions in funding for the wall, which the Senate had done in the spending bill it passed before the government shutdown.

"We are giving the Republicans the opportunity to take yes for an answer," Pelosi wrote in a statement. "Senate Republicans have already supported this legislation, and if they reject it now, they will be fully complicit in chaos and destruction of the President's third shutdown of his term."

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Warren's decision to forgo her government salary arrives on the heels of her announcement of an exploratory committee for a 2020 presidential bid. In a roughly four-minute video, setting the tone for her likely presidential campaign, Warren promised to go to bat with corporate interests in Washington and fight for middle-class Americans.

“The problem we’ve got right now in Washington is that it works great for those who’ve got money to buy influence, and I’m fighting against that,” Warren said. “And you bet it’s going to make a lot of people unhappy. But at the end of the day, I don’t go to Washington to work for them.”