President Obama waves as he makes his to board Marine One on April 3 in Washington, D.C. (Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty Images)
President Obama will voluntarily return 5 percent of his annual salary in a show of solidarity with at least 1 million furloughed federal workers.
“The salary for the president, as with members of Congress, is set by law and cannot be changed,” the White House 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.”
Obama will start cutting monthly checks to the Treasury Department this month, the White House said. Obama earns $400,000 as president, and will return $20,000.
Obama is not the first high-ranking government official to decide to give up part of his salary, even though he is not subject to furloughs. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Tuesday said he would return part of his pay because hundreds of thousands of Defense Department employees are expected to be furloughed 14 work days later this year. Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter also announced in February that he would do the same.
A 14-day furlough for Defense civilians would cost them 5.4 percent of their annual salary, slightly more on a percentage basis than Obama’s voluntary cut.