Fearing Backlash, House Spikes Automatic Pay Raise
IN A STUNNING MOVE, that shows there may be hope yet for Congress, House legislators took the first few baby steps toward freezing their automatic pay raises in 2010 by voting to debate the omnibus spending bill, which includes language calling for an end to the pay hikes.
The rule on debate contained an amendment that laid out a freeze for pay increases in 2010. Republicans voted mostly in favor of it, arguing that Democrats had trapped them into voting for the rule by attaching the pay-freezing measure. Only 18 Republicans and seven Democrats voted against the rule. In 2009, House members automatically received a $4,700 pay increase, amounting to an additional $2.5 million burden on taxpayers.
Emboldened by the move, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) announced following the vote that he would be pushing to take back the 2009 pay raises, which lawmakers began receiving in January:
“The current bill has a freeze for next year; we think we should freeze it for this entire session,” Ryan said on C-SPAN.
In the coming weeks, the Senate is also expected to vote on whether its members should get an automatic pay raise for 2010. The good news, say Congress watchers, is that senators will likely pass language denying them the extra money, too.
(Issue # 11, March 16, 2009)