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Members of Congress are paid $174,000 annually, but one Congressman wants a pay raise

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WASHINGTON (CNN) — The Democratic Party says it’s the party of the working class, but congressional Democrats this week complicated that pitch by calling for a pay raise for members of Congress.

“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,” said Rep. Alcee Hastings during a Monday Rules Committee hearing on the upcoming year’s legislative branch appropriations bill, according to Roll Call.

The number two House Democrat told reporters he agreed with Hastings.

Rep Steny Hoyer said it was appropriate during the recession years in 2009 and 2010 to not approve any pay increases, but to continue that policy “simply will dictate that the only people who can serve are the rich and I don’t think that’s what the founding fathers had in mind.”

Members of Congress are paid $174,000 annually, and haven’t enjoyed a pay raise since 2009. Staffers are paid considerably less, with the average staff assistant on the Hill earning roughly $35,000 per year.

That creates a barrier to entry into Congress for low-income Americans, and contributes to a brain drain that’s made it difficult for congressional offices to recruit and retain top talent, Hastings argued.

“This institution is heading towards elitism,” Hastings said on Monday. “And that’s crazy.”

Members feel “that on the salary that they make, they’re going to be unable to send their children to college,” he added.

The Florida Democrat said the high cost of living in D.C. — according to USA Today, a D.C. resident would need to earn $108,000 annually to live comfortably — makes it impossible for Americans of modest means to serve in Congress, and is causing increasing numbers to forego renting apartments in the city for sleeping in their offices while they’re in town.

The House is voting on Tuesday on the annual spending bill that allocates the budget for legislative branch, and it includes a provision to block an automatic pay hike.

Hoyer noted that most companies allow for cost-of-living adjustments for employees to keep up with expenses, which he said was “not a raise, but a staying even.” Neither, notably, made the case for a performance-based pay raise, which would likely be long coming if Congress maintains its historically low approval ratings.

It’s an annual refrain from lawmakers, who indeed do face steeper costs having to maintain, in many cases, two homes. And Hastings may have a point about the payscale precluding middle- and lower-class Americans from serving — according to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), the median net worth for a member of Congress in 2013 was over $1 million, and a majority of members are millionaires.

In contrast, an American household’s median net worth was estimated at $56,355 in a 2014 study.

Hastings himself is the second-poorest member of Congress, per CRP, with an estimated net worth of negative $2.23 million. But the personal story he used to illustrate his pitch is unlikely to win many Americans over. He described his experience renting a $2,100 apartment in a modern condo building in Northeast D.C. that eventually became too expensive for him.

A one-bedroom apartment in that building, Senate Square, can cost as much as $2,300 according to its website.


  • Karon

    174k? your spouse can get a job or you can both get a 2nd part-time job like regular Americans. That’s how the rest of us meet and pay our bills.

  • Happy

    So we get a budget, now they want to blow the budget. How about they not run for office and get a real job. Or wait when they don’t work or do there jobs they start to lose pay. If you want more money dust off your resume and start looking.

  • Mr. Bob

    Rep Steny Hoyer the Florida Democrat said the high cost of living in D.C. — according to USA Today, a D.C. resident would need to earn $108,000 annually to live comfortably — makes it impossible for Americans of modest means to serve in Congress, and is causing increasing numbers to forego renting apartments in the city for sleeping in their offices while they’re in town.
    Hey Steny, why don’t you get yourself one of those part time jobs at Mickey D’s paying $15 an hour to supplement your income you slime bag democrat loser!!!

  • Hell in a handbasket

    I’m pretty critical of liberals and the media who love them but I give CNN Wire Service for reporting this and Fox 6 for posting it credit. Now for being critical of liberals. If the job is that bad, find a new one. You liberals had no problem keeping my pension frozen despite the 1.7% increase to the Consumer Price Index. You liberals had no problem threatening military pay and benefits when you were making a point and playing politics. You liberals have no problem handing out money for housing, food, childcare, medical care, cash for clunkers, obama phones….. to appease your voting base that you keep in poverty with your nanny state mentality!

  • rockinrobinfan

    As a US citizen and their boss, I am sorry to say we had a difficult year last year and there just isn’t enough there to give anyone a raise. Times are tough so I understand if you will need to look for employment else where to make ends meet since $174,000/yr is a difficult salary to live on. We would hate to see you go but you have to do what’s best for you and your family.
    I have an idea, if they are so concerned about the wage discrepancy between them and their staffers, how about they relinquish some of their salary and give to the staffers to close the gap and not cost the taxpayers anymore.

  • TR

    This must be a joke so I am expected to take a pay cut year after year and give up benefits so our liberal lawmakers can cry they do not make enough and jack up my taxes.

  • albo

    These incompetent boobs in Congress should be put on *part time* wages. There are today *NO* metrics or measures of accountability for Congress, and until they get those in place, CUT their salaries.

  • alboraison

    Let Congress negotiate their salaries with their own constituents. I don’t want to contribute to rich Democrats like Pelosi and Reid. Let their constituents do it — they saddled us with these thieves.

  • Notaxmoney

    Moderated again, truth hurts they should only make what the lowest paid military person makes.

  • Nunya Business

    So they want a pay raise for working less then half a year? Typical BS from the libtards running this country.

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