Earlier this week, the House Committee on Appropriations, long considered the House’s most powerful and prestigious body, released its 2020 fiscal spending bill. In it, the decade-long freeze on congressional pay increases is lifted, and a $4,500 cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for members of Congress is provided.
This is coming from a Congress, by the way, that currently boasts a dismal 20 percent approval rating, according to Gallup.
In 2009, Congressional pay was frozen at $174,000 when Democrats decided to halt automatic cost-of-living increases to stand a better chance in the 2010 elections.
Now, that it’s not their heads on the chopping block, but it seems as if many Democrats have changed their tune on the issue, hoping to restore the COLA. Evan Hollander, a spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee, claimed that “there is strong bipartisan support for these modest inflation adjustments.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) argues that this is not a pay raise.
“That was taken to court; the court ruled it was not a pay raise,” Hoyer said Tuesday, “it was an adjustment on an annual basis for inflation.”
Hoyer has also pointed out that actual pay raises don’t even go into effect until the next Congress convenes.
Despite this, some Congressional Republicans are not pleased. Sen. Ben Sasse railed against the proposed pay raise, saying he refuses to consider it until Democrats can come to an agreement on a budget plan first.
"No budget, no raise. Instead of writing a budget or reforming our bankrupt entitlement programs, House Democrats are angling for a pay raise," he said. "These jokers couldn't hold down a summer job at Dairy Queen pulling this kinda crap."
California Republican Rep. Doug LaMalfa also had some thoughts regarding the salary adjustment, saying, "A salary increase for us? It’s not very high on my radar and it’d be as popular as the plague… It’d show kind of a disconnect with the people."
Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby (R-AL) also said he would not likely support the House's bill, attesting that, “I think the American people would think that Congress ought to earn it first,” regarding the salary pads.
While some may try to paint a different picture, it’s not entirely illogical for Republicans to oppose a pay raise, even if it’s not actually a net increase in income, as Democrats used former pay raise passages to attack Republicans in 2006 in a successful bid to retake the House.