- Not enactedThe President has not signed this bill
- The senate has not voted
- The house has not voted
Committee on AdministrationIntroducedJanuary 24th, 2019
- house Committees
What is House Bill H.R. 751?
Cost of House Bill H.R. 751
In-Depth: Rep. Robert “Bob” Latta (R-OH) introduced this bill to eliminate automatic pay raises for members of Congress:
“Most people don’t know that Members of Congress receive automatic pay increases unless they vote to stop them. This can often shield Members from having to take a vote to increase their own pay. With faith in Congress close to a record low, the No Vote, No Raise Act would ensure that U.S. Representatives and Senators would have to go on record to increase their salary and be accountable for their vote.”
In a letter to his Congressional colleagues seeking cosponsors for this bill, Rep. Latta wrote:
“Many of our constituents do not receive an automatic pay increase, and neither should Members of Congress. That is why I am re-introducing the No Vote, No Raise Act that repeals the provision of law that provides for this automatic increase. If any increases need to take place, I believe Congress should have a transparent and public vote to do so.”
There have been multiple pasts attempts to end automatic pay raises for Congress. As early as 2008, then-Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) expressed his opposition to the practice by donating his extra pay to charity, and argued that there should be a public vote for Congressional pay raises:
“I don't know who could justify it. And what's worst of all is, it happens without Congress even taking any action. These congressmen were very clever years ago in setting up a process where it automatically happens without a vote of Congress. And that has been my big complaint for the eight years I have been in Congress is that we ought to have a vote. We ought to have a public vote and congressmen ought to be on the record about whether in a given year their pay should go up or not. It shouldn't just happen automatically and not have anyone put on the record… It is about $2.5 million, not a lot of money compared to the billions talked about in [this year’s bank] bailouts, but, boy, if there is ever a circumstance where it is totally inappropriate, it is this year.”
Opponents of ending Congress’s automatic pay raises argue that Congressional salaries need to be high — and raised on a regular basis — in order to keep pace with the high cost of living in D.C. and allow people of modest means to serve in Congress. The Los Angeles Times’ Michael Hiltzik makes this point:
“The truth is that reducing compensation for federal legislators would make Congress immeasurably worse. It would become even more of a club for plutocrats than it is now by making it harder for those with modest resources to run for and stay on Capitol Hill… [D]ecent pay is necessary both to attract people from all walks of life into congressional service and to limit their temptation to jump to lucrative lobbying jobs.”
Financial commentator Susan Webber, who writes under the pseudonym Yves Smith on her blog “naked capitalism,” puts it this way:
“If you pay cops terribly, you'll get cops who take bribes. If you pay members of Congress or regulators way less than first-year law school graduates in large New York or D.C. law firms, you're going to get members and regulators who take bribes…. If you cut health care subsidies for Congressional staff, you’ll get lobbyists writing the laws."
This bill has eight Republican cosponsors. Past efforts to end automatic pay increases for Congress have been unsuccessful, largely due to resistance from lawmakers themselves. The closest Congress came was in 2009, when the Senate unanimously passed a bill to end automatic pay increases. However, the bill died in the House without a floor vote.
Of Note: The Ethics Reform Act of 1989 established the current formula whereby members of Congress receive automatic annual adjustments in their salaries, unless stopped by Congressional legislation. Because these pay increases are automatic, members of Congress can receive raises without having to go on record to vote for them.
Members of Congress have voted to freeze Congressional pay in each of the past nine years — thus, Congress hasn’t received a salary increase since 2009. This is because salary increases have been routinely blocked in annual spending laws and other legislation.
- Sponsoring Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) Press Release
- Sponsoring Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) Dear Colleague Letter
- Roll Call (Context)
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / mj0007)