By Erik Wasson - 04/09/14 12:26 PM EDT
Lawmaker attempt to increase pay fails
Rep. Jim Moran’s (D-Va.) quest to increase lawmaker compensation crashed and burned in the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.
In a voice vote, the committee overwhelming rejected an amendment that would have created a new $25 per day housing stipend for members. The committee then approved the legislative branch bill for 2015 without the lawmaker pay increase.
Moran vowed to bring up the amendment on the full House floor.
Moran, who is retiring at the end of this term, said that he wanted to take the heat for offering the amendment in order to highlight the rising costs of apartments in the District of Columbia.
He said it would apply only to those with homes more than 50 miles from D.C. and that he lives within 10 miles of the Capitol. It would amount to $2,800 this year.
“You might ask why I am doing this. Certainly my staff has asked me this,” Moran said, noting his office has been “inundated by calls” since he first talked of the amendment last week.
“Almost all of the using obscene language…none of them supportive,” he added.
But he said that freezing lawmaker pay year after year and not providing an allowance will turn Congress into a place only for the wealthy. He said it would make other lawmakers eager to leave Congress.
Rank and file lawmakers make $174,000 per year but Capitol Hill rents have risen by 50 percent in ten years, Moran noted.
Legislative Branch subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said that there should be a discussion of the effects of pay freezes on who can afford to serve in Congress but he would oppose the amendment.
“It is not just because you have given a personal example of what happens when you support this,” Cole said.
Ranking member Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said that she hopes congressional leaders look at the issue.
Overall, the bill spends $3.3 billion, not including for operations of the Senate. It cuts $40.5 million in construction costs from the Architect of the Capitol in order to increase funds for the Capitol Police, Library of Congress and Government Accountability Office (GAO).
Sequestration has caused the Capitol Police to shutter some entrances to Capitol buildings, to the irritation of many lawmakersk. The new bill requires police to come up with an action plan to reopen closed entrances.
The police get $9.5 million more, while the GAO gets $14.2 million to ramp up its auditing activities.