As The Daily Wire noted Monday, many in Congress feel like it’s finally time to give themselves a long overdue raise after suffering a decade-long pay freeze at just $174,000 — more than three times the median salary in America (about $47,000 in the first quarter of 2019). Their proposed new salary would be $178,700, a $4,700 raise. But that plan appears to have been rather quickly derailed amid internal backlash from Democrats who fear that giving themselves more taxpayer money might end up putting their reelection chances in jeopardy.
Though supporters of the pay raise stress that they had bipartisan support and insist that a “modest” bump in pay is a necessary “cost of living” adjustment, Politico reported Monday evening that the plan has been “postponed.”
“Top Democrats agreed in a closed-door meeting Monday night to pull a key section of this week’s massive funding bill to avoid escalating a clash within their caucus over whether to hike salaries for lawmakers and staff for the first time in a decade, multiple lawmakers confirmed,” Politico reports. “At least 15 Democrats — mostly freshmen in competitive districts — had pushed to freeze pay after some Democratic and Republican leaders quietly agreed to the slight pay increase earlier this month.”
After “intense” debate over “whether to force members to go on the record about a pay raise” on Monday, Politico reports, the “vulnerable” Democrats appear to have won the argument. Voting for a pay increase, they maintained, would hurt them in 2020, when Democrats can’t afford to lose any ground in the House. Politico cites “several Democrats in battleground seats” personally telling House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer that they would protest the vote.
As The Daily Wire’s Emily Zanotti pointed out Monday, while the current Congressional salary doesn’t quite qualify them for the much-maligned “one-percenter” label, they do make the “five-percenter” category. Despite her calls for equality in America, democratic socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) has repeatedly called for a raise for legislators.
“Members of Congress often vote to cut or keep their allowances low,” she tweeted in March. “It’s a superficial gesture, bc keeping Congressional pay low is what creates the desperation + impetus for good, experienced staff to flee to lobbyist jobs. Raising staffer pay helps get money out of politics. Same w/ member pay. Members are paid more than avg — but job reqs 2 residences + we can’t take tax deductions for work costs. No one wants to be the one to bring up increases, so instead ppl take advantage of insider trading loopholes & don’t close them for the extra cash.”
Early Tuesday, she again defended Congress giving themselves a raise. “Yep. Voting against cost of living increases for members of Congress may sound nice, but doing so only increases pressure on them to keep dark money loopholes open,” she wrote in a series of tweets. “This makes campaign finance reform *harder.* ALL workers deserve cost of living increases, incl min wage workers. What this does is punish members who rely on a straight salary, and reward those who rely on money loopholes and other forms of self-dealing. For example, it incentivizes the horrible kinds of legislative looting we saw in the GOP tax scam bill. It’s not a fun or politically popular position to take. But consistency is important. ALL workers should get cost of living increases. That’s why minimum wage should be pegged to inflation, too. Voting against cost of living increases is 1 reason why dark $ loopholes stay open.”
But those concerned about reelection appear to have won the day. As Global Strategy Group president Jeffrey Pollock told the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, giving themselves a raise “feels like a potential ready-made attack ad,” Politico reports.