Merriam-Webster defines accountability as "an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions."
Many of our elected representatives need to consider those words, especially with next year's midterm elections. Polls are showing that the kind of "shutdown theater" and bait and switch tactics we saw in the recent government shutdown, including from those in this administration to try and gain political advantage, are wearing thin on Americans.
There are exceptions. After Congress passed a bipartisan measure last Wednesday, ending the shutdown, U.S. Rep. LoBiondo from New Jersey sent back his paycheck for $5,124 to the government, which was his salary during the 16-day impasse.
Since members of Congress are mandated by the 27th Amendment to be paid, LoBiondo vowed to return his pay when the shutdown ended. The congressman explained that when normal business of the federal government was suspended during the two-week shutdown, he found that many of his constituents were demoralized, frustrated and angry about Washington politics affecting their paycheck.
Other politicians followed LoBiondo's lead. After the impasse ended, at least 248 lawmakers said they planned to donate, refuse or hold in escrow compensation. The list included Pennsylvania Republican Reps. Lou Barletta, Tom Marino and Sen. Pat Toomey, and Rep. Matt Cartwright and Sen. Bob Casey, both Democrats.
On Oct. 1, the first day of the shutdown, Rep. Barletta, notified the chief administrative officer of the House that he wanted to have his pay withheld.
"At a time when any number of federal workers in my district are furloughed, national parks are closed, and certain federal services are interrupted, it is not appropriate for me to receive pay until the shutdown has been averted," Barletta said in a statement.
Toomey's office also issued a short statement from him confirming his intentions.
"As long as furloughed federal employees are not getting paid during this shutdown, I will refuse my paycheck, too," he said.
The paycheck giveback by officials in Washington prompted immediate feedback on social media. One person wanted to know if there any members of Congress who live paycheck to paycheck.
Polls show both political parties suffered with the government shutdown, although a liberal media heaped most blame on Republicans, as usual. The administration certainly took a hit by its treatment of veterans and military families, including the disrespect to Honor Flight veterans visiting THEIR World War II Memorial in Washington. The barricading of the open-air memorial led critics to charge that the administration was using these aged veterans as pawns in order to show how much pain was being caused by the shutdown.
Pete Hegseth, the CEO of Concerned Veterans for America and the former executive director of Vets for Freedom and an infantry officer in the Army National Guard, said the lesson the veterans sent to the White House by going through the barricades should be clear: "Don't treat veterans and military families as chits to be tossed around in negotiations - particularly when you have flamboyantly declared that you have no intention of negotiating with your rivals. Our troops deserve more from their commander-in-chief."
He's not alone in that assessment.
By Jim Zbick