Thursday, June 28, 2007

Pay raises...

The U.S. House of Representatives voted themselves a $4,400 pay raise last night, which would, if it goes through, bring a congressman's salary up near $170,000.

For the record, U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, voted against the idea.

3 Comments:

Blogger Middle Aged Lunatic said...

I disagree with Courtney on this one. If we want good quality legislators we need to pay a decent wage. Everyone deserves a pay raise, and that includes our elected officials. Connecticut needs to do the same - how long have their salaries been frozen at the same rate?

7:51 AM  
Blogger Weicker Liker said...

Ray,

You have to look deeper within this issue.

Most, if not all House Democratic Freshman, voted against the bill.

The folllowing piece from CQ shows how chummy members of Congress have gotton over the pay raise issue:

Uneasy Bipartisan Alliance Protects Pay Raise By Jonathan Allen, CQ Staff

As Ohio Republican Deborah Pryce campaigned for re-election at parades and other public appearances last year, constituents greeted her with sarcastic catcalls such as, “Give yourself another pay raise.”

Pryce was among the targets of Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) ads that resonated with voters in her Columbus district.

The ad campaign accused Republicans of voting to raise their own pay while ignoring the needs of constituents. It obliterated a longstanding informal pact between party leaders in which they agreed to protect annual cost-of-living adjustments for lawmakers and to abstain from using pay raises in political campaigns.

“It wasn’t just a truce. It was like a blood oath,” said Pryce, who survived the political attack, winning election by 1,062 of the more than 220,000 votes cast. She attributes the tight margin in part to the pay raise issue. “It was one of the most effective ads against me, and it ran constantly,” she said Wednesday.

Several GOP lawmakers targeted by the ads lost their seats, and Republicans threatened retribution against Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., who ran the DCCC in the last cycle, and his Democratic allies.

But with a little help from across the aisle, House Democrats mustered a 244-181 vote Wednesday for a procedural maneuver that prevented critics of the pay raise from offering an amendment to block the next scheduled increase.

“Everything’s on the record and everything’s going to be used,” said Mark Steven Kirk, R-Ill.

Few issues that come before Congress are as politically precarious or as personally important as members’ pay.
Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., who opposes the annual increases, said it is difficult to justify to constituents with a median income of less than $28,000 why her salary should be any higher than the current $165,200.

But lawmakers note that they must maintain multiple residences, including one in the expensive Washington, D.C., market.

Alcee L. Hastings, D-Fla., held a notice of a $90-per-month rent increase in his hand during the vote. He said his rent for a one-bedroom Washington apartment is several hundred dollars more a month than the mortgage on his three-bedroom house in Florida.

Hastings warned against Congress choosing not to raise its pay because of the political perils. “What they will wind up with is an elitist Congress, and that is wrong,” he said. “Poor people have a right to be here, too.”

A 1989 law (PL 101-194) makes an annual pay adjustment automatic unless Congress votes to halt it, as happened for the current year. The hike is tied to the formula for federal employees’ pay raises. As has become custom, lawmakers debated the issue Wednesday night on the appropriations bill that funds the Treasury Department (HR 2829).

But there was no clean vote on blocking the pay raise. Rather, there was a proxy vote, a roll call on whether to hold a vote on the rule governing debate for the bill (H Res 517).

As has been the case in the past, a coalition of politically safe Democrats and Republicans voted in favor of the “previous question,” ensuring that the pay raises for all lawmakers were never truly endangered.

The arrangement between party leaders caused some uncomfortable moments on the floor as Minority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., worked to flip GOP votes to make sure more than half his caucus had voted for the previous question. Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., signaled across the room to Blunt to indicate how many more Republicans were needed.

Standing next to a poster of former Republican Rep. Anne M. Northup, R-Ky. (1997-2007), who like Pryce was the target of the DCCC campaign ads, Lee Terry, R-Neb., said the truce is broken.

“There’s no such agreement left, folks,” he said.

Even some of Emanuel’s Democratic colleagues thought the party went too far in 2006.

“I think we violated that agreement,” said John P. Murtha, D-Pa., a longtime defender of annual congressional pay raises. “I don’t think we should have.”

Hastings said Republicans understand the game. “This ain’t beanball. This is hardball. They know that,” he said.

“What kind of promise is a promise that I’m not going to try to win?”

Do members deserve a raise?

“I don’t think that’s really the question,” said Blunt.

“There is a consensus that we earn our pay,” said James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., the majority whip.

2:03 PM  
Blogger mccommas said...

Gee wiz Mr. Hackett.

Who are you backing for Congress?

8:14 AM  

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