Finally, bipartisan cooperation!
Washington (CNN) – With midterm elections on the horizon and the nation’s unemployment rate at 9.7 percent, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to block pay raises for members of Congress for the next fiscal year. The vote was 402-15.
Rules approved by Congress in 1989 provide for an automatic yearly cost of living adjustment, also known as a “COLA,” in order to avoid the awkward situation of lawmakers voting to approve their own raises each year.
The current base salary for rank and file House members is $174,000 a year, with leaders earning more. Lawmakers were scheduled to receive a 0.9 percent raise in fiscal year 2011, adding $1600 to the current base salary, according to the Congressional Research Service.
But some want to go even further…and I can’t think of a better piece of legislation to present (when Congressional approval ratings are in the cellar) than additional pay cuts.
Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.), joined by a bipartisan group of members who face tough reelection races this fall, has called for a 5 percent cut in congressional pay, reducing salaries by $8,700. She cites the example of 1933, when senators and representatives reduced their pay from $9,000 to $8,500 in the midst of the Great Depression. Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), who championed the pay freeze in the Senate, wants to dump the current system of automatic raises. And Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has called for barring members of Congress from ever getting a raise until the budget is balanced.
Again, all good ideas. I can’t think of many Americans who would object to any of them.
So let’s get them going!