The Senate passed legislation Thursday to stop Members’ annual automatic pay raises for 2011, raising the possibility of Members going without a cost-of-living increase for the third consecutive year.
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), who introduced the bill and has long fought to permanently end the automatic raise, said in a statement that Members should give up their annual raise when many Americans are “looking for jobs, and trying to figure out how to pay their bills.”
“Members of Congress have a lot of perks, but the one that stands out is their ability to raise their own pay,” he said. “Not many Americans have the power to give themselves a raise whenever they want, no matter how they are performing. Yet Congress has set up a system whereby every year members automatically get a pay increase without having to lift a finger. I refuse to be a part of that system, and I will continue to work to permanently end it.”
The current base salary for a Member of Congress is $174,000, though the pay for House and Senate leaders is more. Members have gotten automatic annual raises since 1989 — except in years when they have voted to block the increases. The raise is usually about 2 or 3 percent, meant to offset inflation.