House lawmakers vote to block their pay hike

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 1, 2014 at 11:39 am •  Published: May 1, 2014
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WASHINGTON (AP) — House lawmakers voted for the sixth year in a row on Thursday to deny themselves the cost-of-living pay hike that they would otherwise automatically receive next January.

The move would freeze congressional salaries at $174,000 a year and is attached to legislation to fund Congress' budget, which passed the House by a 402-14 vote. Lawmakers haven't received a pay hike since January 2009.

Bipartisan reforms enacted in 1989 gave lawmakers a big pay increase in exchange for dropping the much-criticized practice of accepting money from outside interest groups for speeches.

That legislation also awarded lawmakers annual cost-of-living pay increases, which also meant that lawmakers no longer had to cast politically toxic votes to raise their pay.

Congress accepted the annual COLA for some years in the 1990s and for most of the 2000s but has voted to deny itself the raise for five consecutive years.

The scheduled 1.6 percent hike would give lawmakers a raise of about $2,800.

The congressional salary is generous but many lawmakers make but a fraction of the money than do the lobbyists who meet with them. And steep housing prices in the Washington area can be a hardship for lawmakers who opt to rent an apartment. In fact, more than a few lawmakers sleep in their offices during the three nights a week they typically are in Washington.

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