House Democrats are preparing to vote on a bill that would break a 10-year pay freeze, giving members of Congress a cost-of-living pay bump to the tune of $4,500 or 2.6 percent.
The move comes as part of a $1 trillion spending package Democrats are reportedly voting on next week that includes congressional operations funding. In 2009, heading into an election year and right as the country suffered a crippling recession, Democrats blocked pay increases at the time.
The new 2020 fiscal spending bill would remove that language, paving the way for the raise.
According to Politico, congressional pay raises are guaranteed by a federal ethics bill from 1989.
Currently, rank-and-file members of congress take home approximately $174,000 per year. Members in leadership positions make more, with minority and majority leaders taking home $193,400 annually. The House Speaker earns a salary of $223,500.
The Hill reported that estimates from the Congressional Research Service say that non-leadership members of Congress would be making a salary of $208,000 if cost-of-living increases weren’t frozen over the past decade.
The primary hurdle for House Democrats will be almost guaranteed opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate. Sen. Ben Sasse slammed lawmakers for entertaining the idea of a raise.
“Instead of writing a budget or reforming our bankrupt entitlement programs, House Democrats are angling for a pay raise. These jokers couldn’t hold down a summer job at Dairy Queen pulling this kinda crap,” Sasse said Tuesday.
House Democrats are making moves to lift the pay freeze that lawmakers have been living under since 2010 https://t.co/AmgWi0c26V
— Roll Call (@rollcall) June 4, 2019
But House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is a proponent for the cost-of-living increase, arguing that it’s necessary to prevent only wealthy individuals from holding a congressional seat — ones who can afford to hold a residence in both Washington and their home district.
He also argues that without steady pay increases, it limits the potential for staffers to grow in their positions, which affects retention.
“You know, the salary that we receive is a decent salary, there’s no doubt about that. But, one problem is under the law, our employees are capped. They can’t go above members of Congress, which you can understand,” Hoyer said to reporters.
He followed up by admitting that selling the American people on a congressional pay raise is difficult even in the best of times.
Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby agreed, telling reporters, “I think the American people would think that Congress ought to earn it first.”
As reported on The Inquisitr, news of the potential pay bump comes on the heels of an announcement by House Democrats that they want to give federal workers a 3.1 percent pay raise through a draft appropriations bill that covers financial services and general government.