Democrats Retreat on a Congressional Pay Raise

Democrats Retreat on a Congressional Pay Raise

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It looks like lawmakers may have to wait another year for a pay raise. The nearly $1 trillion spending package moving through the House this week had included a $4,500 per year salary increase for representatives, but the specific bill containing the pay hike has been withdrawn following complaints from House Democrats who are worried about the political implications of the move.

Congress has voted to block its own annual cost-of-living adjustments ever since the recession began in 2009, freezing pay for House members at $174,000 a year. The Congressional Research Service said that representatives would be earning $210,900 a year in 2019 if the annual pay hikes had been in effect. Factoring in inflation, lawmaker pay has fallen by 15% over the last 10 years, CRS said.

A group of more than a dozen House Democrats said Monday they were concerned that the issue could be used against them in the 2020 election. Last week, the National Republican Congressional Committee mocked Democrats as “socialist elitists” for including a pay raise in the 2020 spending package, Politico reports. "Nobody wants to vote to give themselves a raise. There's nothing good about that," said Rep. Katie Hill, a freshman Democrat from California.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said he hopes to reach an agreement with Republicans that would allow the cost-of-living adjustments to begin again without becoming a political issue. "I don't want any of my members who are in tough districts subjected to that. So we're not going to ask them to be subjected," Hoyer said Monday. "We want to make sure we have a bipartisan agreement."