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Boehner joins lawmakers pledging to return pay in event of shutdown

House Speaker John Boehner announced Friday that he will forego pay in the event of a government shutdown, joining a growing list of lawmakers who say they will donate or return their paychecks if federal workers or members of the military are denied theirs by a funding gap.

“In the event of a lapse in appropriations for fiscal year 2011 causing a government shutdown, I will return any and all compensation that I would otherwise be entitled during such a lapse in appropriations,” Boehner said in a letter to his House colleagues.

As NBC’s Luke Russert wrote this week, unless legislation passes today to suspend members’ pay, lawmakers will still receive their paychecks as scheduled. Most members of Congress make $174,000 annually; those in leadership positions make more. 

That contrast is proving unpopular, as members of the military and many “essential” federal workers would have to report for work but only be paid retroactively if there's a federal funding gap.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, has introduced legislation that would ensure members of the military get their paychecks on time. The measure appears to have enough support to pass in the Senate but it has not yet been brought up for a vote.

NBC's Kelly O'Donnell reports that a source inside a Democratic caucus meeting said that Reid is seeking a way to protect military salaries before the end of the day.  "We will not leave here today until we take care of the troops," Reid said, according to the source.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., circulated a letter to senators earlier this week to urge them to return their pay to the United States Treasury in the event of a shutdown. Other members, including Rep. Michele Bachmann and Sen. Orrin Hatch, have said that they will donate their pay to military families if a budget deal isn’t reached.

On Friday, Boehner instructed his members that they may volunteer to return their salaries via the committee that oversees day-to-day operations in the House.

“Should you desire to have your compensation returned to the United States Treasury, you may do so and House Administration Committee can assist in executing your decision,” he wrote.