Dem lawmaker wants Congress to give itself a five percent pay cut next year

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.), who is not satisfied with nixing next year’s automatic pay raise for Congress, made the proposal in a letter to the House Administration Committee. 

Kirkpatrick's proposal would cut lawmaker pay by 5 percent next year, which would save $4.7 million in taxpayer dollars.
The base pay for a House member is $174,000, though leaders earn a higher salary.

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“With the downturn continuing, many Arizonans are tightening their belts to make their money go further,” said Kirkpatrick in a letter to House Administration Committee Chairman Robert Brady (D-Penn.).

“In the face of our ever-deepening federal debt, the federal government must follow their example by finding common-sense solutions to do more with less.”

Kirkpatrick’s office said 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 29 cosponsors since it was introduced in March.

President Barack Obama signed a bill on Friday halting Congress’ automatic cost of living increase for 2011 after it easily passed both the House and Senate last month.

The move 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.