House Democrats caved to pressure and pulled a bill on Monday that would have given themselves and their congressional staff a pay raise.
As the Washington Examiner reports, the bill was opposed by a group of Republicans and Democrats who wanted the controversial cost of living pay raise stripped from a larger package of funding proposals set to get a vote later this week.
The report adds:
The legislative branch bill, which funds Capitol operations, the Library of Congress, and a few other agencies, provides a 2.6% pay increase for members and staff.
Lawmakers have blocked raises every year since 2009, when a recession began.
Roll Call reports the renewed efforts brewed some controversy amid House members as congressional pay is often a politically difficult issue. Some lawmakers joined in on the movement, while some others resisted the pay raise and even offered forward amendments to freeze congressional pay at its current rate.
“Five House lawmakers have offered amendments that would bar funding for a cost of living increase for members of Congress. The three Republicans and two Democrats are raising opposition to House appropriators excluding language barring cost-of-living raises in both the Financial Services and Legislative Branch fiscal 2020 spending bills,” Roll Call reports.
Fox News reports:
Members of Congress generally make $174,000 per year, with senior leaders earning more, and no cost-of-living adjustments have been made in the past nine years. However, vulnerable swing-state Democrats, concerned how the proposed $4,500 pay hike would look if it didn’t also have Republican support, had signed onto amendments rejecting the measure.
“It needs more discussion,” House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., told Fox News.
New York Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, meanwhile, told Fox News Monday that the planned $4,500 bonus was simply a cost-of-living adjustment.
“It’s not even like a raise,” Ocasio-Cortez said. She called opposition to the pay increase “superficial. … This is why there’s so much pressure to turn to lobbying firms and to cash in on member service after people leave, because precisely of this issue.”
Ocasio-Cortez continued: “It may be politically convenient, and it may make you look good in the short term for saying, ‘Oh we’re not voting for pay increases,’ but we should be fighting for pay increases for every American worker.
“We should be fighting for a $15 minimum wage pegged to inflation so that everybody in the United States with a salary with a wage gets a cost of living increase. Members of Congress, retail workers, everybody should get cost of living increases to accommodate for the changes in our economy. And then when we don’t do that, it only increases the pressure on members to exploit loopholes like insider-trading loopholes, to make it on the back end,” she concluded.
According to the report, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) determined if congressional pay continued at the cost of living wage increase set in 2009, then members would be making $210,900 per year.
Here’s more from Roll Call:
Earlier this week, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer voiced his support for a potential pay raise for lawmakers, citing the fact that staff salaries on Capitol Hill cannot exceed lawmaker pay.
Pay raises for lawmakers is a politically tenuous issue, and any effort to move forward with a pay increase is likely to be blocked in the Republican-held Senate.
The proposals will be under consideration in the House Rules Committee next week. But the panel will decide whether or not any of the amendments will be on the floor for consideration by the full House.
There’s not much incentive for the Rules Committee, whose leaders are aligned with Hoyer and other House Democratic leadership, to make a pay freeze amendment in order, which would force members of both parties to take a tough vote on a politically unpopular issue.
Should the House ultimately decide to pass a pay raise, it is unlikely to clear a Republican-majority in the Senate.