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Senate Votes to Block Pay Increase for Members of Congress

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.

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