Saturday, 25 May 2024

Congress starts out the year with a raise

Members of the US Congress will be starting out the new year with a raise.

The 535 members of the Congress will receive a 2.8-percent cost of living adjustment – amounting to $4,700 per member – this month.

At the end of 2008, the salary for all senators and representatives was $169,300, according to Clerk of the House of Representatives Lorraine C. Miller. The salary for the speaker of the House is $217,400 and the salary for the majority and minority leaders is $188,100.

The 111th Congress, which was sworn in on Jan. 6, includes 435 members of the House of Representatives – 178 Republicans, 256 Democrats and one vacancy – Miller reported. There also are 100 members of the Senate.

The largest number of congressional delegates – 53 representatives and two senators – comes from California.

That new base salary now rises to $174,000. In all, the pay raises will amount to just over $2.5 million in the federal budget.

"All 2.7 million federal employees receive a cost of living adjustment most years, which this year has been set at 2.8 percent for members of Congress and other senior federal officials, and 3.9 percent for rank-and-file employees," said Congressman Mike Thompson.

Thompson added, "I did not run for Congress because of the pay. Serving the First District of California has been the highest honor of my career and I am excited to be back in Washington working for change for our district and our country."

The 1988 Ethics Reform Act grants members of Congress the pay raises on an annual basis, unless the House and Senate specifically vote to deny them, which they have done six times – in 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2007, according to a Congressional Research Service report.

The year that bill was passed, members of Congress made $99,500.

In comparison, the president of the United States makes $400,000 annually. In 2001 the president's salary was raised to that amount from the $200,000 that it had been from 1969 to 2001, according to Congressional Quarterly's "Guide to the Presidency." From 1949 to 1969, the president made $100,000 a year.

In the wake of the current economic crisis, the raise hasn't been popular with some citizens groups, including the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste.

"Members of Congress don't deserve one additional dime of taxpayer money in 2009," said the group's president, Tom Schatz. "While thousands of Americans are facing layoffs and downsizing, Congress should be mortified to accept a raise. They failed to pass most of their appropriations bills, the deficit is on pace to reach an unprecedented $1 trillion, and the national debt stands at $10 trillion. In addition, this Congress has been ethically challenged, plagued with corruption allegations, convictions and sex scandals."

The group had urged lawmakers to start out the year by introducing legislation to freeze congressional salaries at the 2008 rate, a suggestion Congress apparently didn't take.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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