Update, April 27: Today, by a 402-15 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill identical to the one Sen. Russ Feingold introduced in the Senate to prevent members of Congress from receiving a raise next year. After the Senate passed his bill, Feingold led a bipartisan group of 21 senators in writing to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi urging her take up and pass an identical bill introduced by Rep. Harry Mitchell, D-AZ, and Rep. Jim Matheson, D-UT.
“I am very pleased that the House has passed a bill to stop the congressional pay raise for next year, just days after the Senate passed my legislation to do the same,” Feingold said. “With so many Americans still looking for jobs, the last thing Congress should do is give itself a taxpayer-funded raise. This is important progress, but there’s still more to do. The law still allows members of Congress to get an automatic pay raise without lifting a finger. I will continue working to end this back-door pay raise system once and for all.”
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI, 1st District, voted with the majority.
Senate rejects pay raise, thanks to Feingold
We don't want no steenkin' pay raise!
That's the message from the U.S. Senate, which Thursday passed legislation by Sen. Russ Feingold that would cancel the automatic pay raise members of Congress would receive next year.
Congressmen and Senators already earn $174,000 a year (leaders get more), so the rejection of a $1,600 raise is largely symbolic to average Joes. Congress had already enacted legislation ensuring there would be no raise this year. The Senate approved Feingold's bill unanimously; the House is expected to go along.
For Feingold himself, the measure is totally symbolic, because of a 1992 pledge he made when he first ran for the Senate -- a pledge to accept no pay raises during his term in office. Feingold returns to the U.S. Treasury any pay above the level in effect each time he's elected.
“Members of Congress have a lot of perks, but the one that stands out is their ability to raise their own pay,” Feingold said. “Not many Americans have the power to give themselves a raise whenever they want, no matter how they are performing. Yet Congress has set up a system whereby every year members automatically get a pay increase without having to lift a finger.
"I refuse to be a part of that system, and I will continue to work to permanently end it. But in the meantime, Congress should at least give up its raise for next year. With so many Americans looking for jobs, and trying to figure out how to pay their bills, now is no time to give ourselves a taxpayer-funded pay raise.”
Feingold has introduced legislation to end the automatic pay raise system. It went through the Senate last year, but the House of Representatives has not acted on it yet.The measure would save $80 million over ten years, Feingold said.