No Pay Raise for Lawmakers Next Year
By Ben Pershing
They're not exactly headed for the poor house, but members of Congress will soon be getting the same pinch from the economic downturn that millions of other Americans are -- a pay freeze.
House Democratic leaders informed their members at a party caucus meeting this afternoon that they will move legislative language blocking lawmakers' regularly scheduled salary increase for 2010. "I told our colleagues that because of the condition of our economy and the crisis our country is in, that the leadership will be instructing the Appropriations Committee not to include a COLA for next year," Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said after the meeting.
That "COLA" is a cost-of-living-adjustment -- the automatic pay raise that members receive each year under permanent law unless Congress actively passes legislation to block it. The last time members didn't get a raise was 2007; otherwise members' pay goes up by a few percent per year, based on a Labor Department formula. Rank-and-file lawmakers are earning $174,000 this year, though top elected leaders make more (Pelosi is taking in $223,500).
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), a longtime proponent of annual raises for members, said the freeze was warranted by these trying times. "We're in a context today where we have extraordinary pain in our community, people losing their jobs, the economy in great stress. The Speaker and I discussed that it would not be appropriate to take a COLA adjustment in the coming year," he said.
If Democratic leaders hadn't made this decision today it likely would have been made for them. Every year there is an effort on the House floor, usually by fiscal conservatives, to block lawmakers' annual raise. In most years that effort gets voted down, but given the current economic climate members would likely have been chomping at the bit to vote for a pay freeze. Dozens lawmakers had already signed on to measures to block the COLA for 2010.
Though members of both chambers currently make the same amount, the language being pushed by House leaders would apply only to their members. The Senate would have to move separately to freeze its own pay.
Posted by: atsegga | February 10, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jac3 | February 10, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: BlueTwo1 | February 10, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: winoohno | February 10, 2009 6:41 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: desertbrown | February 10, 2009 6:53 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: ooyah32 | February 10, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: johngurgle | February 10, 2009 11:21 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Observer44 | February 11, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: glillis | February 11, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: lelon2222 | February 11, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.