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House Dems Pull Legislative Branch Funding Bill From Floor Over Proposed Pay Raise for Congress

Should members of Congress get a cost-of-living adjustment?

by Countable | 6.11.19

The nearly $1 trillion “minibus” spending bill that the House is set to consider over the course of the next few days got a little smaller Tuesday, as Democratic leadership moved to strip provisions funding the legislative branch after a proposed pay raise for Congress proved controversial.

The House voted 227-190 to adopt a rule governing debate on the “minibus” which included a self-executing amendment removing the $3.972 billion in funding for the legislative branch (which included a $4,500 congressional raise for the cost-of-living) before floor debate begins.

Pay has been frozen at $174,000 for rank-and-file members since 2009, and the CRS estimates congressional salaries would now be $210,900 if they’d been increased at the rate of inflation. The Constitution's 27th Amendment prohibits a sitting Congress from increasing its own pay, so increases beyond a cost-of-living adjustment couldn't apply until the 117th Congress.

Proponents of a pay increase, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), argue that a stagnant congressional salary makes members in office more likely to pursue lucrative lobbying jobs. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who has been negotiating about the issue with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), concurs and offered the following comment about a raise for Congress at a press conference Tuesday:

“I do not want Congress at the end of the day to be a place that millionaires serve. This should be a body of the people and I think it’s something that should be looked at.”

However, several House Democrats from competitive districts expressed concern about the political implications of voting to raise Congressional pay and convinced leadership to remove the provisions to allow for further debate.

The minibus spending bill, now reduced to $982.9 billion, will be debated over the course of the next few days and subject to potential amendment votes before a vote on final passage Thursday.


— Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: iStock.com / erick4x4)

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