Senate passes bill to forego 2011 pay raise

The Senate voted Thursday to take a pass on automatic pay raises for lawmakers in 2011, a move that would save the Treasury about a million dollars. 

If the bill is passed in the House, it would mark the second straight year that Members have voted against the cost-of-living adjustment. Rank-and-file members earn $174,000 a year and a pay raise would've added about $1,600 to their paychecks. 

The move also saves incumbents the headache of answering questions about getting pay raises while the nation's unemployment rate stands at nearly 10 percent. 

Discussions on the measure, sponsored by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), are likely to begin early next week in the House, according to a senior Democratic aide. 

"Members of Congress have a lot of perks, but the one that stands out is their ability to raise their own pay," Feingold said. "Not many Americans have the power to give themselves a raise whenever they want, no matter how they are performing."

Feingold said he would work to permanently end the practice of automatic raises that he says would save taxpayers $80 million over the next 10 years. A bill to end the raises has been passed by the Senate but the House hasn't acted on the measure.