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Matheson’s Latest Effort to Block COLA Defeated

The House defeated an effort to arrest its annual cost-of-living adjustment Tuesday night, paving the way for Members to receive a 1.9 percent pay increase.

Utah Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson once again led the endeavor opposing the COLA, marking the fifth year of his one-man crusade against the increase in lawmakers’ pay.

The only House lawmaker to speak against the COLA, Matheson argued other issues, including the ongoing war against terror, as well as education, health care and veterans programs, are more deserving of federal funds.

“With all of those challenges before us, now is not the time for Members of Congress to be voting themselves a pay raise,” Matheson said. “We need to be willing to make sacrifices. We need to behave like American families who make tough choices every day — we need to budget, live within our means and make careful spending decisions based on our most pressing priorities.”

According to Matheson’s office, this year’s expected raise will be $3,100, which would bring pay for rank-and-file lawmakers to $165,200 from the current $162,100. Elected Members of the leadership are paid slightly more.

Under federal law, Members automatically receive the annual raise unless they pass legislation to block the COLA from being implemented.

As he has in previous years, Matheson raised his objections during debate proceeding discussion of what is now the Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, District of Columbia and independent agencies spending bill.

Because the rule governing debate for that measure prohibited Members from submitting any amendments, however, Matheson’s only option was to ask for a procedural motion on the rule itself.

When the House approved that motion, in effect defeating Matheson, it thereby prevented him from introducing his amendment and eliminated the possibility of an up-or-down vote on the COLA.

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