Lawmakers push to permanently ban automatic pay raises for members of Congress

Lawmakers push to permanently ban automatic pay raises for members of Congress

A bipartisan pair of lawmakers unveiled legislation on Thursday to permanently prevent automatic cost-of-living adjustments for members of Congress.

The bill from Reps. Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by USAA — Ex-Ukraine ambassador testifies Trump pushed for her ouster GOP group calls out five House Republicans to speak up on Ukraine On The Money: Senate confirms Scalia as Labor chief | Bill with B in wall funding advanced over Democrats' objections | Lawyers reach deal to delay enforcement of NY tax return subpoena MORE (R-Pa.) and Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.) comes days after House Democratic leaders scrapped a plan to vote on legislation to allow for the first pay raise in a decade.

Lawmakers have voted since 2009 to block their annual pay raise, which some are now trying to change this year since the cost of living has skyrocketed since then.

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The House is currently considering a package of spending bills that originally included spending for legislative branch operations. That measure does not include language that blocks the annual cost-of-living increase. 

But the bill would reverse a decades-old law that establishes an annual automatic cost-of-living adjustment for members of Congress altogether.

Both Fitzpatrick and Brindisi were among the lawmakers in both parties who co-sponsored amendments to prevent the lawmaker pay raise from moving forward.

The pushback from swing district House Democrats like Brindisi led to Democratic leaders opting to scrap consideration of the legislative branch spending bill this week until the lawmaker pay raise issue is resolved.

"Gridlock on major issues must not be rewarded. Members of Congress need a reality check, not a raise. This bill will stop the automatic pay raises for good," Fitzpatrick said in a statement.

"We successfully fought to prevent this year's pay raise, but we need a permanent solution," added Brindisi, who flipped a GOP-held district in upstate New York last year.

Lawmakers are set to receive a $4,500 raise in January 2020 unless they act to prevent it.

Rank-and-file members of Congress make $174,000 annually. The Speaker has the highest salary at $223,500, while the House majority and minority leaders make $193,400.

The Congressional Research Service estimated that, when adjusted for inflation, lawmaker salaries have decreased 15 percent since the last pay increase in 2009. It also concluded that the 2019 salary would be $210,900 if lawmakers had kept receiving the annual cost-of-living increases.

Advocates for allowing lawmakers to get the first cost-of-living adjustment in a decade say it's necessary to ensure that Congress isn't limited to the independently wealthy. They also argue it's needed to raise the pay cap for congressional staff, who can't make more than their bosses.

"Members have now received 10 years of freeze which means, for 10 years, they have lost purchasing power. We don't want to have only rich people here. You know, we want this to be the people's House, and representative of the people," House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHillicon Valley: Zuckerberg defends handling of misinformation in political ads | Biden camp hits Zuckerberg over remarks | Dem bill would jail tech execs for lying about privacy | Consumer safety agency accidentally disclosed personal data House leaders offer tributes from floor to Elijah Cummings Maloney to serve as acting Oversight chairwoman after Cummings's death MORE (D-Md.) told reporters this week.