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(Ready) Another pay freeze for members of the House

The House approved legislation on Thursday that would once again freeze congressional pay at $174,000, a salary that has been locked in place since 2010.

Members approved the 2015 legislative appropriations bill in a 402-14 vote, despite protests from some Democrats that both members and staff need a pay hike. Members of the House are paid $174,000 per year.

On Thursday, members of the House voted to once again freeze their salaries. AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

 

Retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) is the most vocal Democrat who supports a pay raise. Just before the vote, he said Congress acts as a “board of directors” for the country, and deserves a pay increase.

“We deserve that respect. We ought to stand up for ourselves, defend this Congress because what we do is defensible,” he said. “And show that we merit adequate compensation so we can be wholly representative of this great American public.”

Moran proposed a $25 per day stipend for members who live more than 50 miles away from Washington DC, which he said would make it easier for members to afford rental housing. But House Republicans refused to consider this amendment.

In a committee report accompanying the bill, Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said GOP-led cuts to the House of Representatives’ budget is leading to lower moral among members and staff.

“Those cuts severely strain the House’s ability to serve the American people,” they wrote. “Most Members have fewer staff to handle constituent issues. Unless we return to sensible funding levels, we cannot stave off the further erosion of expertise and morale in the House.”

But Republicans supported the legislation, and trumpeted that they have managed to cut House funds by 14 percent since 2011.

“The bill reflects a continued acknowledgement that the Legislative Branch must set itself as an example for fiscal restraint while continuing to serve the Nation,” the Appropriations Committee report says.

The legislation spends $3.3 billion on House offices and joint offices used by both the House and Senate, but it does not set spending levels for the Senate.

Before it was passed, members accepted amendments to kill funding for the national Botanic Garden, and use $500,000 for sexual harassment training for members of Congress and their staff.

One last thing…
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