Freshman Democrat blasts leadership for not holding vote on salary cut

A politically vulnerable Democratic lawmaker blasted her party’s House leadership as she demanded a vote to cut the salaries of lawmakers by $8,700 next year.

In a letter sent Thursday afternoon, Rep. Ann KirkpatrickAnn KirkpatrickThe Trail 2016: Sanders who? McCain campaign blocks own ad from YouTube Poll: McCain locked in tough reelection fight MORE (D-Ariz.) pressured Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) to hold a vote on her bill to cut congressional pay by five percent and save taxpayers $4.7 million next year before Congress breaks for its fall recess.

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“For months, and despite multiple requests to move it forward, the bill has not seen any progress in the House,” said Kirkpatrick in the letter. “It seems that it is being swept under the rug.”

Kirkpatrick's letter comes in the wake of a Rasmussen poll released two weeks ago which found that 75 percent of the 1,000 people surveyed wanted lawmakers to reduce their salaries until the federal budget is balanced.

President Obama signed a bill in May halting Congress’ automatic cost of living increase for 2011 after it easily passed both the House and Senate last month. The base pay for a House member is $174,000, though leaders earn a higher salary.

The freshman Kirkpatrick is in the midst of a tough campaign against Republican nominee Paul GosarPaul GosarOvernight Finance: Puerto Rico bill clears panel | IRS chief vows to finish term | Bill would require nominees to release tax returns House panel approves Puerto Rico debt relief Overnight Defense: Dem opposition mounts to defense policy bill MORE for her state’s 1st District seat. She is top Republican target this cycle.

Kirkpatrick has made several pushes for her bill to be approved out of committee, saying that this would be the first time Congress decreased its pay in 77 years – the last time being in the midst of the Great Depression on April 1, 1933. Her measure has garnered 31 cosponsors since it was introduced in March and has been endorsed by the National Taxpayers Union and The Senior Citizens League.

“Congressional leadership has not listened to the public on the pay cut bill,” said Kirkpatrick in a statement. “But I am not going to let this legislation get swept under the rug. This is something the folks back home want and that the country needs to restore fiscal discipline. It is time for Members of Congress to put their constituents before themselves – we need to pass this bill now.”

Next year’s pay freeze marks the second consecutive year lawmakers have opted not to receive their automatic cost-of-living increase. The law governing congressional pay raises requires members to vote against getting a raise. Otherwise, the increase takes effect automatically.

Congressional cost-of-living adjustments are calculated using a formula based on changes in private-sector wages and salaries as measured by the Employment Cost Index. Since this method began in 1990, Congress has accepted a raise 13 times and denied itself a pay increase seven times.