WASHINGTON -- Minnesota Democrats Tim Walz and Collin Peterson have added their names to a small but growing contingent of U.S. House members moving to block automatic congressional pay increases.
In a call for members to share the burden in what may be the deepest economic recession since the Great Depression, Rep. Harry Mitchell, D-Ariz., introduced the Stop the Congressional Pay Raise Act earlier this month. The bill would halt the scheduled pay increase for 2010.
The move comes as President Obama announced a salary freeze among his top advisers in reaction to the current economic climate. The bill claims 80 cosponsors from both major parties, but Minnesota's three Republican members and its three other Democrats were not among them.
Every year, members are given a cost of living adjustment, which this year produced a $4,700 pay increase. Overall, that amounts to an additional $2.5 million taxpayers are spending on congressional salaries. As the law is written, the adjustment occurs annually unless Congress votes to not accept it.
Walz, who has returned his salary increases to the U.S. Treasury each year since he was first elected in 2006, said he realized a few thousand dollars wouldn't fix the economy or pay down the country's $10 trillion debt. "But every little bit helps," he said.
"We're all in this together and now is not the time for a pay raise," Walz said.
Freezing congressional pay is hardly a new idea. Legislators have floated similar proposals every year dating back to 1995, and at other times long before that. Last year, Mitchell introduced similar legislation, but the bill had only 34 cosponsors and failed to make it out of committee.
Currently, House members make $174,000 a year, with leadership making slightly more. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is slated to make $223,500, while the majority and minority leaders in the House will make $193,400.
Mitch Anderson • 202-408-2723