While debating a Congressional bill which would fund the legislative branch, Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) urged Congress receive a pay increase for the first time since 2009.
While advocating for a Congressional cost-of-living-increase (COLA), Hoyer said: “I think personally that it was appropriate at the time of the recession in 2009 for us not have to have a cost-of-living adjustment, but to continue that on simply will dictate that the only people who can serve are the rich. I don’t think that’s what the founding fathers had in mind. Frankly, I see the COLA adjustment as not a raise, but staying even.”
Hoyer, whose net worth ranks him among the lower tier of Congressional members, echoed the reasoning of Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), who stated: “Members don’t like to talk about it, but it’s kind of a sad state of affairs that we are entering the seventh year of Congress not receiving a raise.” In his remarks, Hoyer added a pay increase was needed to keep pace with the private sector; he cited the real estate market, particularly the high-priced market in Washington, D.C.
Congressional pay in 1789 was $6 per day; between 1985 and 2000 alone, it nearly doubled from $75,000 to $141,000 and it stands at $174,000 today.
In 2009, lawmakers seeking to identify with the masses of unemployed exercised discretion, elected to freeze pay and have since declined to accept the annual increase effective January 1 of every year. While an upright gesture at the time, it is entirely appropriate the motion remain intact now.
Annual income and personal wealth amidst elected officials has emerged to be a contentious subject of late. The Obama’s wealth was recently revealed to be a maximum of five-million dollars; and the Clintons have raised eyebrows for their exorbitant speaking fees and amassing a fortune in excess of $100 million since leaving office. Corresponding to this unsettling trend, a Congressional panel recently voted in favor of limiting the presidential pensions.
[The Hill] [Frontpage Mag] [Legistorm]