President Obama will return 5 per cent of his salary to the U.S. Treasury in a show of solidarity with federal workers reeling under $85 billion in government-wide spending cuts.

The 5% mirrors the cut that domestic agencies took when the reductions went into effect. Every federal agency is grappling with spending cuts, which the White House has warned could affect everything from commercial airline flights to classrooms. A 5% cut from his salary of $400,000 per year amounts to $20,000. Mr. Obama will return a full $20,000 to the Treasury, said an official .

“The salary for the President, as with members of Congress, is set by law and cannot be changed,” Mr. Obama spokesman Jay Carney said late Wednesday. Mr. Obama isn’t the first President to give up part of his paycheque .

John F. Kennedy donated his presidential salary to various charities, according to Stacey Chandler, an archivist at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. George Washington, the first president, tried to refuse a presidential salary, but Congress required that the position pay $25,000.

Mr. Obama’s salary is set by law, so he must accept the funds and then write a cheque to the Treasury each month for the portion he plans to give up. Mr. Obama’s decision, first reported by The New York Times, won’t affect the other perks afforded the President, from a mansion staffed with servants to the limousines, helicopters and Boeing 747 jumbo jet.

More In: International | News | World