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All in a Day’s Work

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) has railed against Congress’ annual cost-of-living adjustment for years, trying unsuccessfully year after year to block the pay increases.

“How can Congress give itself a $3,400 pay raise, while nearly 9 million people are unemployed and 2 million have been out of work for more than half a year?” Feingold asked recently following the defeat of his amendment to the Transportation-Treasury spending bill.

This is the fifth-straight increase, which is automatic unless Congress specifically blocks it.

The 2.2 percent automatic pay raise — the same Social Security recipients will see — will boost rank-and-file Members’ salaries to about $158,000. They currently make $154,700. Leaders make around $200,000.

That got Roll Call wondering how Congressional salaries compare to democracies in the industrialized world. We scanned the Internet and checked with embassies here in D.C. to compile some comparisons.

And, for the record, the average salary for D.C.-based House staffers was $51,068 in 2002. And minimum wage workers? They earn about $10,000 a year.

Country Salary Salary in U.S. dollars*

Canada

(House of Commons)
$139,200 Canadian dollars; $106,106.00
Canada

(Senate)
114,200 Canadian dollars; $87,049.30

Japan

(both houses)
22,190,000 yen; $204,046.00

Australia

102,760 Australian dollars; $73,530.90

Germany

7,009 euros; $8,006.66

Great Britain

(House of Commons)
56,358 pounds, $93,841.70

Scotland

49,315 pounds; $82,114.40

Wales

42,434 pounds; $70,656.90

Northern Ireland

41,321 pounds; $68,803.60

European Parliament

56,358 pounds; $94,841.70

* Exchange rates as of Wednesday

— Carolyn Shuckerow