Those in Congress earn a salary of $174,000. For the average American, this is a significant amount of money.
The amount of money that Congressional leaders make has been a point of disagreement for a long time, especially since they’re in charge of taking care of their own pay hikes through a series of votes.
Additionally, they get paid even when others are on furlough due to a government shutdown.
With everything else that’s going on in the government right now, the Democrats thought it would be a good idea to establish a bill that would create a congressional pay raise.
However, there has been a significant amount of backlash, especially from some members who are vulnerable to losing their seats in competitive districts.
As of Monday, the Democrats have decided to pull this bill from the already massive funding bill that will be pushed out for a vote.
This was to avoid crashing with the caucus.
Is a salary hike a must?
Some argue that a salary hike for lawmakers is a must. It’s been the first time in a decade.
Representative Katie Hill, for example, wants to talk about the raise in terms of preventing stagnant pay.
She doesn’t want a low salary to deter the average American from running for office, particularly if they live in a district where there is a high cost of living.
It’s easy to argue, however, that there’s no need for more than $174,000, regardless of what district a person lives in. The idea behind going into politics is to make a difference, not to get rich.
One strategist called it political suicide if Democrats were supporting a pay raise for themselves. This is particularly true with the freshman Democrats who are in swing districts.
Action Must Be Taken
There’s a spending package that will provide funding for various agencies. However, the section of the bill that focuses on funding for the House and the Senate, will require action.
If there is no action on the floor, a pay increase of around $4500 would go into place for everyone on Congress based on current law.
A specific vote would need to be made by Democratic leaders to block the cost of living increase. This is something that members have done annually for the past 10 years.
GOP Speaks Out
The campaign arm of the House GOP, the National Republican Congressional Committee, actually used the possibility of a congressional pay hike as a jab to the House Democrats.
They called the Dems “socialist elitists” for even considering the cost of living raise inside of the upcoming spending package.
After a bit, the news release that denounced the Dems was pulled, choosing not to use this information against them.
Much of this was because some top Republicans had backed the measure in private discussions, identifying that if the Dems pushed it through, they would vote positively.
One top Republican, specifically, was Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader.
Pay is On Hold
As of right now, it looks as though the component for a pay increase is off the table. With too much fragility in place for the Dems in an election year, they’re not going to take the chance of upsetting the American people.
Too many freshmen Democrats are in swing districts where they could easily lose their seat for voting one way or another.
Further, the House Dems, for the most part, are still focused on the possibility of impeachment.
With all of this going on, it would be unwise to push through such an expenditure with an already large spending package.
All that being said, leaders from both sides have talked about pay stagnancy being the reason why qualified congressional candidates aren’t stepping up to run for Congress.
According to Congressional Research Service, salaries have actually decreased by 15 percent since 2009 when inflation adjustments are factored in.
At some point, the leaders of both parties are going to have to accept a pay increase so that the salaries don’t become stagnant.
However, it may also be a good idea to focus on some of the reasons why the American public don’t want to see Congress making as much as they do – such as not showing up to DC for the different votes, taking money from different groups for their “reelection fund,” and countless other payoffs that happen behind the scenes.
$174,000 is a lot of money no matter what, and Dems were wise to take the pay increase off the table…for now.