Gwen Graham pledges to donate her salary if DHS funding allowed to lapse

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U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham said Tuesday that if the GOP-controlled 114th Congress moves forward with an increasingly likely budget gambit that would shut down the Department of Homeland Security, she will forfeit her pay in solidarity with the many federal workers who will be furloughed.

“If Congress lets obstructionists shut down the Department of Homeland Security, each member should give up their paycheck,” Graham said Tuesday afternoon. “There should be an immediate consequence for letting partisan games threaten the security of the American people.”

Graham’s campaign lambasted her opponent former Rep. Steve Southerland this past year for participating in similar Gingrich/tea party-style budget tactics, calling him “Shutdown Steve” in campaign messaging. Graham beat Southerland by about 1 percent of the vote in November.

“With threats ranging from ISIL, to cyber security, to safety at our borders, it’s unacceptable for Congress to shut down the Department of Homeland Security,” Graham said in the prepared statement. “There are enough moderate Democrats and Republicans ready to pass a clean Department of Homeland Security funding bill. It’s time for leadership in both parties to set politics aside and fund the Department of Homeland Security.”

The announcement is in keeping with recent Graham moves meant to seize the political middle, an unusually significant factor in her competitive North Florida district. Since taking office in January, Graham has cast votes against former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as leader of her caucus and for approval of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which President Barack Obama is expected to veto.

Last week the National Republican Congressional Committee picked Graham as a top target in its 2016 campaign effort, nominating her for a facetious Brad Shneider-inspired “Most Likely to be One-And-Done” award, referring to her freshman status and perceived electoral vulnerability.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.