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How long will lawmakers' pay stay frozen?

By Ben Pershing
President Obama wants the government to tighten its belt, and his 2011 budget proposal calls for military and civilian federal employees to get just a 1.4 percent pay increase next year, significantly less than they got this year. The salaries of senior White House staff will be frozen. So what about members of Congress?

Obama's budget is silent on the subject of what lawmakers should be paid, but don't expect this issue to stay quiet, particularly in an election year. On Tuesday, a reporter asked House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) -- a longtime supporter of members' annual pay raises -- whether he would be willing to freeze congressional salaries until the federal budget is balanced.

"I'm sure that Congress would be willing to consider" a freeze for next year, Hoyer responded. "We froze cost of living adjustments this year, and I'm sure we'll consider that again. If you're talking in terms of freezing until we balance the budget, that's a long time, and I think that that's further ahead than I want to plan."

Reporters laughed at Hoyer's response, but the question could become a serious one as Election Day approaches.

Federal law gives members a raise pegged to a cost of living formula each year unless they specifically vote to block it. Congress voted last year to freeze their salaries for 2010, and it's hard to imagine they won't make the same choice for 2011, given the current state of the economy. Lawmakers' current salary is $174,000 per year.

Some lawmakers have already proposed scrapping their 2011 raise, and others want to get rid of the current system of automatic raises. But it's unclear whether members would really agree to freezing their pay until the budget is balanced, given that -- as Hoyer said -- the red ink won't be disappearing any time soon.

By Ben Pershing  |  February 2, 2010; 3:49 PM ET
Categories:  Capitol Briefing  
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Comments

"Willing to consider" means they will make it automatic, no vote necessary. Just another way of your elected officials spitting on the American tax payer.

Posted by: zendrell | February 3, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Congressmen should be paid the median salary calculated by the U.S. Department of Labor for the prior year. It's called public service.

Posted by: mhammel22 | February 2, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

I know that members of Congress, with their over-blown images and egos, consider themselves legends in their own time (or own minds, if you choose) -- but what makes them different than the rest of the hard-working people in the U.S. -- the people they're supposed to REPRESENT? Just about everyone I know works harder, longer hours than this group. And most of us have endured raise freezes (as well as hiring freezes, time cuts for hourly employees, enforced unpaid leave time) -- in fact, most of us are making LESS money than we did two years ago! And how many of our peers have lost their employment completely??!

Please, Congress -- come and join the rest of us!! The same cuts that have affected us should affect you as well! In fact -- put your money where your mouth is -- take a pay cut!! Now THAT might prove something to the people that you were ELECTED to represent!

Posted by: queeng1964 | February 2, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

tjhall1: The misery of your existence must know no bounds...

Posted by: salf | February 2, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

How much do you pay worthless, parasitic, homosexual-loving miscreants??

Posted by: tjhall1 | February 2, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

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