Lawmaker complains he’s ‘stuck here making $172,000 a year’

Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) on Wednesday quipped that he is “stuck” on Capitol Hill while his staffers are free to move on to lucrative jobs on K Street.

Talking with Republican colleagues in the basement of the Capitol, Gingrey said congressional aides “may be 33 years old now and not making a lot of money. But in a few years they can just go to K Street … and make $500,000 a year,” the National Review reported.

“Meanwhile I’m stuck here making $172,000 a year,” Gingrey said, according to Capitol Hill staffers who overheard the remarks.

Top House and Senate policymakers can earn big six-figure salaries at law and lobby firms, associations and corporations.

Three staffers have left Gingrey's Washington office to become registered lobbyists since he joined Congress in 2003, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Data does not track every staffer who has departed for the private sector— only those who, at some point, have registered to lobby.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the lawmakers planned how fight a regulation allowing the federal government to give out health insurance subsidies for staffers and officials to buy insurance. Critical lawmakers have called it an illegal exemption for Congress.

While Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) heard the concerns of Reps. Frank Lucas (Okla.) and Joe Barton (Texas), who said rejecting the exemption would take a “toll” on their income — and the pay of their aides and their families — he said accepting them would be “very difficult to explain to the American people.”

When asked about his comments, Gingrey said he doesn’t recall what he said about his income, but pivoted back to the healthcare law provisions.

“It is completely unfair for members of Congress and Hill staffers to get this special treatment that the general public are not getting,” he said.