Congressional pay is in the news again. Under current law, the base salary for Members of Congress is $174,000. Representatives and Senators are eligible for an automatic annual salary adjustment based on changes in the government’s Employment Cost Index. The adjustment goes into effect unless Congress votes to block it, which it has each year since 2010. Members are due for a potential raise next January of 1.7 percent – about $3,000 per Member, and a combined total increase in salary costs of $3.2 million.
The House is working on a Legislative Branch appropriations bill that would retain the freeze on Congressional salary for another year. At least one Member of Congress strongly opposes this.
Representative Alcee Hastings (D-FL) complained in Committee:
“Members deserve to be paid, staff deserves to be paid and the cost of living here is causing serious problems for people who are not wealthy to serve in this institution. … We aren’t being paid properly.”
His chief gripe is the cost of housing in Washington. Rising rents recently drove him out of his $2,100 per month luxury apartment. The DC region never experienced the economic downturn the way the rest of the country did. One reason for this has to be the business of government. As the government grows and expands its reach, more DC-based lobbyists and trade groups are needed to monitor legislation and regulatory activities. In 2013 Sunlight Foundation estimated that for each Member of Congress, “the influence industry produces about $12.5 million in lobbying.”
Rep. Hastings legislative agenda as tracked by NTUF’s BillTally project would see federal spending spike by over $1 trillion, so perhaps he is a victim of the “big government” policies he tends to support.
The Congressman had a unique career history before he was elected to the House in 1992. Just a few years prior to that, Congress voted to impeach and remove him from his federal judgeship because of charges of corruption. If he is dissatisfied with the salary that taxpayers afford him, he could always seek his fortune in the private sector.