President Barack Obama will voluntarily return 5 percent of his $400,000 salary to the United States Treasury, a White House official confirmed Wednesday. The move, first reported by the New York Times, is in solidarity with federal employees who are seeing pay cuts or furloughs as a result of sequestration.
Under Article II, Section I of the United States Constitution, no sitting president’s salary may be altered while he or she is in office. Obama’s decision is in response to lawmakers failing to reach an agreement to keep the mandatory spending cuts from kicking in last month.
“The salary for the President, as with Members of Congress, is set by law and cannot be changed,” a White House official said in a statement. “However, the President has decided that to share in the sacrifice being made by public servants across the federal government that are affected by the sequester, he will contribute a portion of his salary back to the Treasury.”
Like many of his civilian colleagues at the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is taking a pay cut equal to 14 furlough days. Obama’s refund to the Treasury will amount to $20,000 a White House official confirmed. Consistent with the across-the-board spending cuts being compressed into a shorter portion of the year as in the sequester, Obama’s payments will amount to more than 5 percent of his salary in every pay period through the end of the year.
Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Obama was refunding salary retroactive to March 1. In fact, a White House official clarified that Obama will return 5 percent of his total annual salary for the entire year.