WISCONSINREPORT.COM (06/21/2010) - U.S. Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) are leading a bipartisan group of senators in urging the House of Representatives to take up legislation to end the automatic pay raise system for members of Congress. In a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, 20 senators asked that the House vote on a bill passed by the Senate last year requiring members of Congress to pass legislation if they want to give themselves a pay raise. Currently, members of Congress receive an automatic pay increase UNLESS they pass legislation to block it.
The Senate bill ending automatic pay raises would save roughly $80 million over ten years. Feingold has regularly introduced legislation over the last ten years to end the system and included it as a provision in his Control Spending Now Act, legislation made up of more than 40 specific proposals to cut roughly one half trillion dollars in government spending.
The letter was cosigned by Senators Barrasso (R-WY), Bennet (D-CO), Brown (D-OH), Casey (D-PA), Coburn (R-OK), Collins (R-ME), Dorgan (D-ND), Enzi (R-WY), Gillibrand (D-NY), Isakson (R-GA), Johanns (R-NE) Klobuchar (D-MN), McCaskill (D-MO), Merkley (D-OR), Murray (D-WA), Snowe (R-ME) and Vitter (R-LA).
"While many Americans are struggling to find jobs, members of Congress still get a raise unless they act to stop it," Feingold said.
"I'm pleased Congress acted to give up its raise next year but it's time to end this system once and for all. The House should follow the Senate's lead and end this back-door pay raise system," Feingold added.
"The automatic pay raise sends a bad message to the American people who are already cynical about government," Grassley said.
"There’s no reason, in any circumstance, that members of Congress should automatically receive a bump in pay, but it’s a slap in the face to do it when people across the country are tightening their own belts,” Grassley continued.
The letter to House Speaker Pelosi:
"Dear Speaker Pelosi:
We urge you to bring up for a vote legislation passed by the Senate last year, S. 620, that would end the system of automatic, annual pay raises for members of Congress. Passing this bill would save roughly $80 million over ten years, and help demonstrate that Congress is willing to tighten its own belt as we work to reduce record deficits.
We appreciate your efforts to prevent members of Congress from receiving a pay raise in 2011. While that was an important step, it is time to end a system that guarantees members a pay hike unless they act to block it. The burden should be on members of Congress who believe they deserve a raise to pass legislation, not on those who want to block one. Few of our constituents have the power to raise their own pay -- Congress should exercise this power openly, on the record.
We thank you for considering our request and hope the House will soon take up S. 620."